Five Key Principles for PowerPoint Success
Picasso had oils and canvas. Donatello had raw stone and bronze. And you? Consult- ants have PowerPoint. It’s the lin- gua franca of the business world: a tool that is lauded for its ability to help us understand inconvenient ruths, and maligned for its role in the poor communication that has led to disasters, big and small. Over the last few years, there has been a renaissance in presentation design. This is part of a broader trend towards design-oriented thinking that is permeating nearly every aspect of business. The bar has been raised, and it’s important for consultants to demonstrate the same design prowess that has be- come an essential part of their clients’ businesses. Unfortunately, much of the con- ventional wisdom about presenta- tion design is a bit anemic when applied to the sophisticated pre-
sentations created by consultants.
Six words on a slide and a pretty
picture just doesn’t cut it.
But it is possible to use the
tenets of great design to make your
presentations more impactful.
This same process is critical be-
fore authoring a presentation. Start
by establishing a grid. A typical
design grid contains six columns
separated by five gutters and posi-
tioned between a left margin and
right margin. A six-column grid al-
lows you to easily divide a slide
into halves (three columns each),
thirds (two columns each), sixths,
or one large area.
Once you’ve defined the grid’s
columns, you can position key
elements vertically such as the
title, subtitle/takeaway, and main
That design grid can act as a
blueprint for the rest of your
slides. You can now easily create a
portfolio of slide layouts by posi-
tioning elements such as text
areas, icons, photos, and diagrams
along the design grid.
Here are five rules I’ve learned as
I’ve straddled the worlds of design
Ravi Mehta is CEO and founder of
Slidevana, which enables consultants,
entrepreneurs, and sales professionals
to quickly create professional quality
slide decks on any device that runs
PowerPoint or Keynote. Mehta is a technology entrepreneur who has driven
strategy and product development at
both VC-backed startups and Fortune
500 companies. More information can
be found at www.slidevana.com.
DRAW A BLUEPRINT
Watch a really great designer or il-
lustrator get started on a project.
They don’t stare at a blank screen
or sheet of paper for very long. In-
stead, they start by drawing guides
that establish a framework for
their work. Those lines define the
margin, whitespace, perspective,
and overall composition.
HANDPICK YOUR FONTS
Fonts like Arial, Helvetica, and
Century Gothic have become visually stale. Choosing fresh fonts will
instantly give your presentations a
tailored look. Using unique fonts
doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive. Sites like FontSquirrel.com
provide access to hundreds of beautiful typefaces that are 100 percent
free for commercial use.
As a general rule, you should
pick at least two different fonts for
your presentations. Pick a heavy,
sans serif font for titles, headers,
and any other text rendered at a