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10 Design Tips For An Effective Keynote or PowerPoint Presentation

Jessica Barkell

How many times have you sat through poorly designed Keynote or PowerPoint presentations that were boring and looked a bit unprofessional? Probably quite a few.

The good news is: you don’t have to be one of them! This guide will help you design a Keynote or PowerPoint presentation that will not only sound great - but look great too!

Here are 10 simple Keynote or PowerPoint presentation design tips for creating a professional, beautifully designed presentation deck.


1. LESS IS MORE

One of the most glaring sins of a bad Keynote or PowerPoint presentation is cramming too much on one slide, making it difficult for people to retain any information. Having one idea or concept per slide while leaving lots of white space your audience focus on your key points.

Following the 6×6 guideline (a max of 6 bullet points per slide and 6 words per bullet) will keep your keynote presentation concise and easy to understand.

Just watch out for “orphans” (when the last word of a bullet spills over to the next line). This makes your Keynote or PowerPoint presentation look cluttered. Either fit the sentence onto one line, or add another word to the second line.

2. SPACING IS ESSENTIAL

Most Western languages read left to right, top to bottom. Knowing this natural reading order, you can direct people’s eyes in a deliberate way to certain key parts of a slide that you want to emphasize.

Using layout is a simple but effective way to control the flow and hierarchy of information.

3. COLORS ARE CRUTIAL

Stick to simple light and dark colors. Exceptionally bright text can cause audience frustration and eye fatigue, so use those colors sparingly.

Dark text on a light background or light text on a dark background works well. But avoid intense gradients, which can make text hard to read.

If you’re looking for color inspiration on your next presentation, you might want to check out our blog post on the Psychology of Color.

4. EASY TO READ FONTS

Traditionally, serif fonts (Times New Roman, Garamond, Bookman) are best for printed pages, and sans serif fonts (Helvetica, Tahoma, Verdana) are easier to read on screens.

These are always safe choices, but if you’d like to add some more typographic personality, try exploring Google Fonts. The open-source collection is free and you can download from more than 600 font families.

Try to stick with one font, or choose two at the most. Fonts have very different personalities and emotional impacts, so make sure your font matches the tone, purpose, and content of your presentation.

5. CLUTTER KILLS ATTENTION

We already talked about how less is more when it comes to your Keynote or PowerPoint presentation slides. Putting too much content in a small space causes content to look cluttered and therefore hard to read. We talked about leaving white space above, but another way to avoid clutter and increase attention is a practice called "visual hierarchy."

Visual hierarchy creates interest and prevents our eyes from glazing over. It also signals to the viewer what information is important by providing structure. Use consistent structures and rules for all your headlines, sub-headlines, bullet points, etc. to create a visual hierarchy. Your audience - and their attention spans - will love you for it.

6. ...SO DOES OVERSTYLING

Three of the easiest and most effective ways to draw attention to text are: bold, italics, or a change in color.

Our eyes are naturally drawn to things that stand out, but use it sparingly. Overstyling can make the slide look busy and distracting.

7. USE SENTENCES SPARINGLY

Your Keynote or PowerPoint presentation slides provide support for what you are saying. They are simplified, visual notecards that capture and reinforce main ideas, not complete thoughts.

As the speaker, you are delivering most of the content and information by speaking. Your slides don't need to include every single word of that speech. If your audience is reading your presentation instead of listening to you deliver it, why are you even there?

The most effective Keynote or PowerPoint presentations put the focus on you and your words letting the slides play a supporting role. You should never have complete sentences unless you’re quoting someone or something.

8. IMAGES SAY 1,000,000 WORDS

The saying goes "images say 1,000 words" but we're taking it a step further - in a Keynote presentation they can communicate a whole lot more.

Because we process visuals 60,000 times faster than text, finding the right image can be crucial. A good image will help convey information and persuade your audience, whereas a bad image can confuse, bore, or alienate them.

Choose your images carefully and make sure they are adding support to your Keynote or PowerPoint presentation and not just filling up space.

9. VIDEO INCREASES ENGAGEMENT

To maintain people’s attention for a long period of time you need to add variety. One way to do this is through video.

If you're trying to communicate a complex message a video is the perfect medium to do so. Another advantage of video is that it can elicit a much more powerful emotional response than words alone. Viewers will be more likely to recall the information afterward if they have something to hold onto.

Concepts and feelings prevail over words and stats, and video offers much-needed breaks in the action to let everything settle in.

10. MAKE SHARING EASY

Another key element to any Keynote or PowerPoint presentation is to make it easy to share. Make sure to include "soundbite" snippets your audience can write down and remember - as well as share on social media easily.


The next time you design a Keynote or PowerPoint presentation, remember that simplicity is key and less is more. By adopting these simple design tips, you’ll deliver a clear, powerful visual message to your audience.

Without good design, even the best, most powerful idea gets lost in the mix.

Need help? We got you covered...

Browse all of our pixel perfect templates and pick the design that's right for you. We created these templates to do all the design heavy lifting for you so you don't have to worry about a thing! 

Check out all our professionally designed templates for Pages, Keynote, iBooks Author, and Powerpoint

A Beginner's Guide to Pairing Fonts

Jessica Barkell

Pairing fonts can be a challenge. In this guide, we'll show you everything you need to know so you can pair fonts beautifully.

Here's a quick breakdown of what we'll cover:

  • How To Pick A Font
  • How Many Fonts?
  • 3 Combination Strategies
  • Font Combinations
  • Free Font Resources

HOW TO PICK A FONT

When deciding which fonts you want to use, first you need to think about what kind of message you're trying to convey. Is it playful? Professional? Whimsical? This will help you narrow down your options when choosing fonts.

Here are some examples of fonts that convey different messages:

HOW MANY FONTS SHOULD YOU USE?

There's no hard rule on the number of different types of fonts you can use in a design. But too many fonts can sometimes cause a design to look messy and unprofessional.

When starting out, a general rule of thumb is to use no more than two or three different fonts in any one design or project. That way you avoid the pitfalls of font overkill and maintain a clean sophisticated look at the same time. 

3 COMBINATION STRATEGIES

Now it's time to pair some fonts! When choosing two fonts, you want them to complement each other - not clash. The easiest way to do this is to pick one of three strategies:

#1: Pick one font family and use it for everything

Some text font families are extremely versatile because they include lots of different weights. 

You might be wondering, "what is a weight?" Weight refers to how heavy or light the text will appear. This basically means “thickness.” 

This is an excellent way to avoid the fear of pairing two fonts that don’t match. The font is the same so it will certainly be complimentary to itself! You’re just using a larger size and/or different weight for your display font. 

#2: Choose a font family with a serif and a sans serif

This is another easy strategy to avoid the fear of pairing the wrong fonts. Again, because they are the same family, they most certainly match.

Choose the sans-serif for the display font and the serif for the text font. Or the other way around. Whichever you prefer, both work perfectly well.

#3: Pick one display font and one text font

Use one display font for all your chapter titles, headlines, block quotes etc. and your text font for everything else. Make use of italics to diversify your text font for example, captions under images. 

FONT COMBINATIONS

FUTURA / BODONI 

MINION / GILL SANS

BODONI / FUTURA

MYRIAD / MINION

FREE FONT RESOURCES

Font Squirrel: This is probably the best resource for fonts that are free.

Google Fonts: Created as a directory of free fonts for use on websites or other web-based projects and applications and another solid option.

Lost Type Co-Op: Trendy, unique, and vintage-style fonts that are “pay what you want” (including nothing - so FREE).


Without good design, even the best, most powerful idea gets lost in the mix.

Need help? We got you covered...

Browse all of our pixel perfect templates and pick the design that's right for you. We created these templates to do all the design heavy lifting for you so you don't have to worry about a thing! 

Check out all our professionally designed templates for Pages, Keynote, iBooks Author, and Powerpoint

8 Common Design Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

Jessica Barkell

What makes a design good or bad?

It's true that "good" or "bad" design is somewhat subjective - we all have different tastes. But there is a difference between good and bad design in the sense of how it effectively communicates a message. 

Good graphic design will inspire responses and clearly communicate visual information. Bad design, on the other hand, will impede and muddle that communication.

Here are 8 common pitfalls of design and how to easily avoid them:


1. NEGLECTING WHITE SPACE

A common mistake is trying to put too much content in a small space. This causes content to look cluttered and therefore hard to look at for the viewer. 

White space creates contrast, guides people’s eyes in a particular direction, and establishes a clear visual hierarchy. Embrace white space and give each element room to breathe. 

8. NO VISUAL HIERARCHY

The same way too little white space can create a cluttered look that is hard to read, lack of visual hierarchy (even with sufficient white space) can also make content difficult to view and digest. This leads to ineffective communication.

Visual hierarchy creates interest and prevents our eyes from glazing over. It also signals to the viewer what information is important by providing structure.

3. TOO MUCH TEXT IN ONE LINE

Reading line after long line of text can cause eye fatigue. Content is much easier to read if you keep the measure, or the length of a line of type, short.

Research shows that optimal readability of text is between 45-75 characters per measure, including spaces. 

4. TOO MUCH CENTER ALIGNED TEXT

A common newbie design mistake is to center-align large chunks of text. This makes text hard to read because it looks clunky due to ragged left and right edges.

Small amounts of centered text can be great when it comes to visual interest. But like the saying goes - more is not always better - and it's actually really bad when it comes to overusing center aligned text.

It’s best to use left- or right-alignment. Save the centered text for headlines and short lines of text only.

5. COLOR OVERLOAD

Contrast is an important and powerful design tool. We’re wired to notice differences, and contrast adds focal points and prevents things from looking boring. One way to do this is by using different colors. But like we said earlier - more is not always better. 

Too many colors (or a poorly chosen color palette) can make your design look garish, overwhelming, and cluttered. It's generally safe to stick to between three and five colors - just make sure they compliment each other! Even three to five clashing colors can have the same garish look as too many colors being used.

6. FONT OVERKILL

Contrast is an important and powerful design tool. We’re wired to notice differences, and contrast adds focal points and prevents things from looking boring. One way to do this is with different fonts. But like we said earlier - more is not always better. 

A general rule of thumb is to pick two or 3 different fonts at the most and stick with a pattern for each fonts use. For example, all headlines are one particular font, size and color while all body text is another specific font, size and color. Just don’t overdo it.

7. POOR KERNING

Kerning refers to the individual spacing between letters of text - and it can make a huge difference when it comes to readability. If two letters are too close together, it can make words look messy, unclear, and difficult to read. If kerning is done right, it creates a neat, visually organized piece of text.

8. PERFECT SYMMETRY

Balance is one of the fundamental principles of design. It refers to the way elements are distributed throughout a layout, and it provides a sense of order and stability. However, balance doesn’t have to mean using perfect symmetry all the time.

While symmetry isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s a boring and easy way to convey information. By using asymmetry, you’ll create visual interest and spontaneity, and also capture people’s attention effectively.


Without good design, even the best, most powerful idea gets lost in the mix.

By learning how to avoid common design mistakes, you’ll be able to create content that looks clean and professional, while also conveying your message effectively.

Need help? We got you covered...

Browse all of our pixel perfect templates and pick the design that's right for you. We created these templates to do all the design heavy lifting for you so you don't have to worry about a thing! 

Check out all our professionally designed templates for Pages, Keynote, iBooks Author, and Powerpoint

The Psychology of Color: A Guide to Communicating with Color

Jessica Barkell

Color plays a crucial role in visually communicating your message. It can instantly stimulate our senses and elicit different emotional responses.

So which colors evoke what emotional responses? And are you using the right colors to effectively communicate your contents message?  

In order to make sure you're projecting the right mood, you need to understand the basics of color psychology. This guide will walk you through the basics of color communication to make sure your content is on point with the message you want to deliver. 


DEFINE THE MOOD

First, you need to decide what mood or emotions you're trying to convey. Think about your audience first and your objectives second.

What will your audience want to feel when looking at your product, reading your content, or learning from your presentation? 

Each color family has its own emotional meanings and psychological associations, so it’s useful to be aware of them—this way, you can pick a color that aligns with your message.

WARM COLORS

Warm colors are eye-catching colors like red, orange, and yellow. We associate them with energy, importance, liveliness, heat, and passion.

Red feels stimulating and overt, it might even feel aggressive; orange feels a bit more playful and peppy; yellow feels cheerful and optimistic. Together, warm colors evoke feelings of comfort, warmth, energy and happiness.

COOL COLORS

Cool colors have a refreshing, calming feel to them like blue and green. Why? Because we universally associate them with the sky, water, and nature.

Shades of blue tend to be calming and reinforce feelings of reliability and trustworthiness; think banks and financial institutions. Green tends to be associated with practicality, loyalty and consistency.

PURPLE & PINK

Purple and pink hues tend to feel more feminine and convey a romantic, soft, and tender emotional state. 

Purple is the color of royalty (when deeper) and spirituality (when lighter). Pink is the color of love and tends to convey an even more sensitive state like that of a nurturer or caregiver. 

BLACK

Black embodies luxury, elegance, and prestige; think black tie events or the American Express Black Card. It can also feel authoritative and strong—even intimidating.

WHITE

White is associated with purity, cleanliness, innocence, and simplicity. Off-white shades like cream or eggshell feel warm, soft, and rich. If you add slight red or yellow undertones (warm colors), white can feel friendlier.


TIPS FOR WORKING WITH COLORS

Dark vs. Light Shades

  • Adjusting the value of a color - how dark or light the color is- allows you to control how powerfully it is perceived. Lighter values will make a color feel less powerfully while darker values will make it feel the opposite.

Color Saturation

  • To make a color feel more exciting, try adjusting the saturation (the intensity of a color). Fully saturated colors are vivid and rich (and therefore more exciting) because they have no gray in them. Less saturated colors have gray undertones, so they are muted and soft.

Color Tools


USING COLOR

It’s important to remember that there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to color. Don’t second guess yourself - any designer knows what this is like. It’s good to be intelligent about your color choice, but don’t make yourself so crazy about what your instinct and good eye told you to begin with.

Need help? We got you covered...

We have a a large selection of templates that were created to do all the design heavy lifting for you. Check out all our professionally designed templates for Pages, Keynote, iBooks Author, and Powerpoint.

How Not To Fail

Jessica Barkell

Write! Publish!…Fail!

A lot of people believe that the first step in selling an ebook is writing an ebook. Those people are wrong. The first step in selling an ebook is finding people to buy it.

Sounds backwards, doesn’t it? It’s not.
Let me share with you something I see happen all the time, which no one likes to talk about:

A very brilliant, very talented, very capable writer has a “great idea” for an ebook. They sit down to outline it, spend months writing and re-writing it, they publish the book online, and then all their hopes are dashed by the sound of – *chirp chirp* – crickets.

“Why isn’t anybody buying my book? What should I do? I wrote an amazing book! As Jerry McGuire would say: SHOW ME THE MONEY!”

Do you know what happened? They wrote a book nobody wanted.

Lesson #1:

The first step in selling an ebook, is finding people to buy it.

The truth of the matter is…writing an ebook is time-consuming endeavor. Before you start doing all that work, doesn’t it make sense to go out there and find people who are actually willing to buy your ebook first?

Sounds obvious, I know, but everyone skips this step because we let our egos get in the way of our common sense. We think we already know what people want and how to give it to them – but this is exactly the type of thinking which leads to chirping crickets when you publish.

Do you want crickets?

Or do you want to do the work that gets you paid for all the blood, sweat, and tears you’ll shed creating an amazing ebook? Call me crazy, but I’m guessing it’s the latter. So, I’ll say it again:

If you just sit down and start writing for yourself, you have absolutely no guarantee that anyone else will be interested in what you’re writing.

But if you start with an audience first and find out what they need, want, and are willing to buy – the odds of people buying your book go up a lot.

So, what should you do first?

Choose and research an audience first. Resist the urge to just sit down and write. You’ll thank yourself later when you publish your book to a list of people eagerly waiting to hand you their money. But how?

Market Research (in 30 Minutes or Less)

Now that you understand how important it is to find people who are willing to buy your ebook before you sit down to write it, let’s talk about how to find them.

Let’s say I’m passionate about health and fitness and I’m going to write a book about how to lose weight and achieve optimum health. Specifically I want to talk about nutrition, supplements, and different types of diets.

What unsuccessful authors do:

They sit down at their computer, whip up an outline for the book, and start writing.

Wrong!

You might be an expert on the topic, but this isn’t about you. This is about what your audience needs.

Your audience is where it all starts:

Even if you think you know what they need, you’ll be surprised that just a little market research can go a long way. Within just 30 minutes, you won’t have to guess what people want to read and are willing to pay for – you’ll know. How? Because they’ll tell you.

“But wait, I don’t have an audience.”

Not to worry. You don’t need to be internet famous or have spent years building legions of blog readers to do this. But you do need to go find where your audience lives – online. Where does your audience hang out? What blogs do they read and what internet forums are they actively participating in?

For some of you, this might be really easy because you are a part of your audience. You know what blogs they read, what forums and websites they hang out in because you’re there too. But, in case you’re having trouble, there’s this little thing called Google. Now, go find the top blogs and websites for your audience.

What are you looking for?

First, were you able to find your audience online? If not, you might have a hard time selling any ebooks. Assuming you did, here’s what you need to look for:

  • What are the “hot topics” for your audience? These are blog posts with over 50 comments, forum threads (with a lot of activity), or a post listed in the sidebar as the most popular articles of all time. 
  • What are people confused about? Do you see the same questions over and over again? Even if they are answered correctly, that means it’s still a relevant and confusing topic for newbies. Write it down.
  • What are a few buzzwords, key phrases, acronyms, or industry speak that this audience uses? Write them down. 
  • What are the problems, worries, anxieties, stresses, anger, or any other emotions that you see repeating in the comments or forums?

This is the key to building up your marketing efforts so do not move forward until you’ve done this research!

Do the work. Reap the benefits.

This is critical for everything that follows. Do the work and you’ll get the results you need to be a successful self-published author.

Like this article? Check out the next post in this series about 10-Minute Marketing Tactics for Busy Authors.


Without good design, even the best, most powerful idea gets lost in the mix.

Need help? We got you covered...

Browse all of our pixel perfect templates and pick the design that's right for you. We created these templates to do all the design heavy lifting for you so you don't have to worry about a thing! 

Check out all our professionally designed templates for PagesKeynoteiBooks Author, and Powerpoint