Education Public Relation

Three Fatal Presentation Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

By December 8, 2011October 15th, 2017No Comments

The first post in this three-part series covered how to create compelling content for your next presentation. Content is the foundation of your presentation, and this post provides some tips on how to build an engaging, visually beautiful set of slides atop that foundational content. You’ve done the hard work of developing meaningful ideas, so why not display them in the best possible light? This is the fun part.


Making your slides too complicated

Avoid cluttering the slides with unnecessary bells and whistles. They’ll only distract your audience and detract from the message you’re trying to convey. The “less is more” cliché applies in this case. But you have all of that useful content, so what should you do with those data points and poignant examples?  Read on…

Putting everything on one slide

Ever notice how the audience suddenly springs to life and madly scribbles notes exactly when you switch slides? Then, after they copy the text from your presentation verbatim into their pads, they slump back into their chairs and zone out until they’re cued by a slide change to pay attention again. There’s a simple way to keep your audience on its proverbial toes: present at a faster rate. This does NOT mean you should speak more quickly. Instead, take the content that you’d typically put in one slide and spread it out over three, four or five. It takes some practice developing a comfortable flow, but your presentations will be more engaging because of your lively delivery.

Death by bullet (points)

Bullet points can be useful, but not every idea can be accurately expressed as one. Give yourself some artistic freedom by ditching the traditional outline approach. Instead, consider using compelling phrases or vivid words that you can build context around with your verbal delivery. Using images for this purpose also is an effective way to convey meaning; include them often.


If you’re weary of PowerPoint and Keynote, there are plenty of alternatives to explore these days. Try using SlideRocket or Prezi to build your presentation slides. Abandon generic clip art images for photos from iStockphoto or Fotolia. Your audience will appreciate you for it.

The final post in this series will cover the nerve-wracking part of presentations: actually presenting. There’s a lot of anxiety associated with standing up in front of your peers to tell them about your ideas. Being nervous is okay. And, as next week’s post will suggest, nerves might actually work in your favor.