A common struggle for many marketers is how to make PowerPoint presentations both visually stimulating and effective.
When I first used PowerPoint it was 1999. Bill Clinton was acquitted from impeachment, and I was a PowerPoint novice. In 2016, Hillary Clinton is running for the democratic presidential nomination, and I use PowerPoint probably more than I call my mom.
Here are a few tips to help bring your PowerPoint prowess out of the Dark Ages and into the century of visual design:
1. Use the Widescreen template.
PowerPoint defaults to the 4:3 size for standard slides. Using this template drastically decreases each slide’s space and can visually cramp your content. To avoid this, change your slides to “Widescreen” (16:9 or 16:10). The slide is your canvas; make it big.
2. Avoid using default shape formatting.
When you create a shape, the program defaults to a blue gradient fill, a dark blue outline and a light gray shadow. To simplify the visual—and if your organization doesn’t have a color preference—change the gradient fill to a light gray or light blue.
To decrease density and give your text a cleaner look, remove your shape’s lines and shadows. A general rule is never to use shadows in the first place.
3. Limit your text, and use more visuals.
To be concise, avoid using full sentences on a slide. Limit your use of bullet points to make your work look less like every other PowerPoint presentation. To avoid overwhelming the reader, list only four or five points on a slide. If you include more than five, you’ll probably lose your audience. Here are two examples to consider:
4. White space is your friend.
White—or blank—space gives your viewer’s eye time to rest between sentences. Remember your first art history lesson: The negative space is just as important as the active.
5. Use dark gray instead of black.
Oscar-Claude Monet never used black in his paintings, because he wanted his work to have energy and depth. Take that approach with your PowerPoint slides. Even the darkest gray provides more dynamism and ease than a harsh black. You’ll see the difference instantly.
6. Use thin lines.
The true art of design lies in the contrast between weight and airiness. To embody this, use thin (1-point) lines.
RELATED: How to eliminate corporate jargon and drive business performance with improved communications techniques.
Feeling overwhelmed? Take a look at HubSpot's Killer SlideShare PPT Template. Now, go into the world and create beautiful presentations your audience will want to see.
Kitty O’Connell is a senior marketing automation consultant at LinkedIn, where a version of the article originally appeared.