3 Tips for Professional Looking PowerPoint Slides

March 20, 2013 | Sabrina Cote
3 Tips for Professional Looking PowerPoint Slides

PowerPoint slides have long been an essential component of most business meetings and professional presentations, and for almost as long as people have been using PowerPoint for these functions, they have been searching for fresh ways to make their slides more engaging and eye catching. 

In an effort to spice up their presentations, however, many business people fall victim to the over-cluttered slide…or the chaotic image collage slide, or worst of all, one of those slides that has so much going on that no one quite knows where to focus their attention. 

Well fear not, we can help you avoid the pitfalls of PowerPoint “over design” with these three simple PowerPoint tips for more professional slides.  Below I have outlined each PowerPoint tip, with before and after examples, and then at the end of this post I have included a brief video tutorial to show you how to put these tips into action on your own slides.

PowerPoint Tip #1: Using borders to give uniformity to images

The right images can boost the effectiveness of your presentation and keep your audience engaged throughout.  We’ve all heard the familiar warnings to avoid clipart and stock photos in favor of more authentic and original images.  What happens, however, when you do have top notch images, but their backgrounds, shapes, and sizes are so varied that when used together, they make your slide look disorganized and disjointed?

PowerPoint picture borders to the rescue! Select a picture border from the Format tab and apply the same border to each image on your slide to bring uniformity to an array of images, giving your slide a cohesive look. In the example below, we used the shadow border option to turn these ordinary screenshots from our blog into appealing graphics.

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PowerPoint Tip #2: Using transparent shapes to highlight slide elements

Business presentations often include complex images, such as graphs and charts. The tendency for many is to use large arrows or bright colored boxes to emphasize key parts of the graph or diagram.  While these may be effective in some instances, in many cases they just add unnecessary clutter to the slide.

Here’s where the transparent shapes come into play. Use the PowerPoint Shapes option to draw a shape that perfectly covers your entire image, then use the transparency feature in the Format Shape menu to make the shape slightly translucent. Simply overlay a screenshot of the section of your image that you wish to highlight to give the illusion that a spotlight has been cast on that particular section of the image. 

In the example below, we used this technique to place emphasis on the guestbook data section of this Brainshark view receipt.

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PowerPoint Tips #3: Using background templates to create cohesive presentations

Now let’s talk about how to pull all your slides together to give your entire presentation a consistent, cohesive appearance. Background templates can be applied to your slides by simply selecting the desired template from the Design tab at the top of your PowerPoint screen. You can brand your background template with your company’s logo and colors, and you can even create a few different slide layouts to add variety to your presentation, while staying true to the overall theme of the template.

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More PowerPoint tips and ideas:

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