Designing Great Presentation Slides

Image: Theis Kofoed Hjorth (Flickr)

Great slides add value and power to your presentation but what’s the best way to design great slides? What I’ve found is both the most effective and the most fun is a simple step by step process:

  1. Write your speech. Your slides must reflect and add to what you’re saying so until you have a solid script there’s no point in designing slides.
  2. Print out your script. Read through it and circle the key ideas and core messages of your talk. These will form the basis of your slide set. 
  3. Read through the script again, this time look for any ideas or concepts that would be easier to explain using visual and mark them.
  4. Finally read through the script one more time looking for data and statistics that could be understood by your audience easier as a graph or informatic instead of raw numbers.
  5. Before you switch on the computer sketch out how you want your slides to look with regard to text, images and data. I could suggest using post-its for two reasons, firstly because you can have one slide per post-it and also it means that you can ensure that you don’t put TOO much information on the slide.
  6. With a clear idea of how you want your slides to look, build your slides in Powerpoint, Keynote, Prezi etc. 
  7. Start with the text for each slide and the colour scheme for the slide deck, this way if you are running out of time you have a basic slide deck ready. 
  8. Build the graphs and infographic for your data.
  9. If you still have time start to look for images that match the message and idea of each slide. It can take a lot of time to find the right set of images so make sure to allow time for this.