Everyone knows that the key to any good pitch is a plan and a presentation. And when it comes to presentation software, there’s no better option than PowerPoint.
This is mostly thanks to its simple but efficient design that seamlessly conveys words and images alongside one another. It’s this simplicity that’s allowed PowerPoint to become such an integral part of modern working life.
If you’re in digital PR or new business, we’ve no doubt that you’ve seen your fair share of presentation and pitch decks. You’ve probably even put a few together yourself. But how much thought have you ever given to creating a PowerPoint presentation?
Creating a PowerPoint presentation might seem a simple task, but learning how to make slides that really pop could be the difference between winning and losing a new business pitch.
Your slides act as the backdrop to your points, subconsciously telling your audience a lot about you. Every colour, every font choice, and every image selection can work to help or hinder your presentation.
If you’ve designed a presentation with the intent of pitching it to potential clients, you need it to be persuasive instead of letting you down.
So, to help you understand how to make a good PowerPoint presentation and deliver decks that blow the competition away, read on…
What makes a good PowerPoint presentation?
In many cases, what makes a good PowerPoint presentation can be a rather subjective question.
For one thing, while PowerPoint was originally invented for use in the corporate world, its appeal now spans way beyond that. This means its design capabilities aren’t just tailored to businesses.
We’ll touch on a few in-depth points later in this article, but we’ll begin with some general PowerPoint deck tips.
It’s usually a good idea to approach PowerPoint’s in-built designs with caution. Not every design in there is suitable for an investment pitch, so leave the word art in 2005 where it belongs!
Instead, it’s always a sound decision to make your own slide designs themed around your business’s style. These will make both you, and your pitch, look professional, helping you to stand out from the crowd.
When it comes to your background, you want it to be as simple as possible, especially if you are including text. Always make sure that your background and font colours complement one another to avoid text being unreadable.
Consistency and simplicity are the two basic rules you should follow. You don’t want to distract your audience by constantly changing colours and fonts. You’re not showcasing the capabilities of PowerPoint, you’re pitching something, so keeping the slides as consistent as possible will help people to focus on your points.
Lastly, putting an agenda at the start of your deck will inform your audience of the structure of your talk, as well as help you divide up your points. If you plan your deck out and have a solid structure, you’re much less likely to overload slides.
It’s also a neat idea to know what you’re going to say in full before creating a PowerPoint presentation. That way, you know all of the information you need and you can be truly selective about where it goes.
Colour and design PowerPoint deck tips
As mentioned briefly above, the colour and design of your presentation should be slick and simple.
From a design perspective, you may see bits of advice about how many slides you can have per point. The truth is you can never have too many slides. If a slide starts to look cluttered, just split the information up between multiple slides.
Doing this will make your information much more digestible for your audience, and the next part of the information is only a tap away from you.
When it comes to colours, this depends on what you’re pitching and to whom. If you have brand colours, it’s always a good idea to stick to them. But as a general rule for how to make presentation slides, no more than three colours should be used within a deck. This includes the use of black and white.
Of course, if you don’t have brand colours, or you’re pitching with a different tone in mind, the best way to get matching colours is to make use of a colour wheel. On a colour wheel, the colours across from each other are considered complementary, while the colours three steps away from each other are considered contrasting.
Complimentary colours are good for large blocks of colour in the background, and contrasting colours are good for added effect. You want your text to stand out, so make sure colour is as contrasting to the background as possible while still looking professional.
Alignment PowerPoint deck tips
When it comes to what makes a good PowerPoint presentation, alignment is an often-overlooked element that is surprisingly important to get right. Correct alignment can be a major contributor to the way your eye takes in visual information.
PowerPoint has gotten a lot more advanced in the last couple of years, and will try and help you with alignment automatically with suggested gridlines coming up when you move an image or text box. However, it is still possible to get it wrong.
The best way to understand alignment is to imagine that your slide is a grid. Make sure each item on your slide, whether it be text or image, is spaced evenly away from both the edge of the slide and the other items.
Your slide should also never be split into more than three “grid boxes” – i.e., there should not be more than three items on each slide as a general rule.
When it comes to titles and logos, make sure these are consistently aligned in the same location on each slide. If you know you’re going to be making a lot of decks, save yourself some time and make master slides so you always have a template to input into.
Making good use of words
Ultimately, you as the presenter are what your audience has come to see. Not your PowerPoint deck. They want to invest in you, not your slides.
With this in mind, you don’t need to put absolutely everything you’re saying onto each slide. This will not only look horrendous, but it will also confuse your audience with information overload.
You should opt for bullet points where you can or brief statements if necessary, making use of diagrams and images where possible. Your deck is your aid and should provide the audience with basic and important information, but nothing more than this.
You’ll also most likely be under time constraints when presenting, and it may be tempting to put things you can’t fit into your speech onto your slides, particularly when looking at how to end a PowerPoint presentation.
This works to an extent, for example, putting a table of costs in and explaining the basic numbers, and then sending the deck to the investor or client so they can see the breakdown at a later date.
However, if you do this too often, your audience will become confused with whether to study the slides or listen to you.
A good way to get around this is by providing an index. An index includes slides of information you haven’t covered, but when it’s sent over, the recipients can flip through them at their leisure.
How to end a PowerPoint presentation
No matter the reason for your pitch, your last slide should always aim to accompany your last words to your audience. In essence, when deciding how to end a PowerPoint presentation, what do you want your audience to take away?
A good rule of thumb when ending your PowerPoint presentation is to tie up all the remaining loose ends and provide your audience with their next steps. For example, if you are pitching, your last slide may include contact details, whereas if you’re doing a workshop, it may be links to further sources of information.
With those tips in mind, you should find creating a PowerPoint presentation that looks simple yet professional an easy task. But as you probably already know, creating your pitching deck is only half the battle. For tips on how to really nail the presentation itself, find out how to pitch for new business over on the c3 blog.
Creating a PowerPoint presentation goes hand in hand with much of what we do at connective3. Whether it’s pitching for digital PR work, organic content, or content marketing, we always try to make ourselves pitch-perfect for every client’s needs. Get in touch to see how we can use our skills to enhance your business.