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Blog

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