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Nayomi Chibana

Written by: Nayomi Chibana

December 25, 2015

Before and After: 7 Presentation Makeovers (And What You Can Learn From Them)

visme presentation slide makeoversWe’ve all heard that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but the truth is that good looks inspire not only more attention, but more trust. This is not only true of people we meet, but the visual content we perceive around us.

A study conducted by the University of Melbourne found that visitors engage with websites much in the same way they interact with people. Just like the way we judge strangers when we first meet them, users judge sites by the quality of their design, such as the colors and fonts used, as well as the layout of elements.

Even non-designers can differentiate between good and bad visual content, concludes this second study. So, after all we’ve heard about not discriminating against books with ugly covers, we still judge based on appearances, and in the end, looking good means not only being good but being competent.

The same goes for presentation slides. That slide deck full of outdated animation effects, huge chunks of text and overused stock photos simply isn’t going to impress–let alone convince–anyone of the truth behind your words, no matter how insightful your message.

To give you an idea of how much design matters when it comes to that important pitch, we selected some less-than-attractive slides from real presentations and redesigned them as examples of what you should and shouldn’t do.

1 Choose the right background.

First, let’s go over what’s wrong with the following title slide. Here, a complex background with textual content distracts from, instead of reinforces, the main message. Since the title is the most important part of this slide, a color overlay at reduced transparency can help bring out the content in the foreground.

Before:

Title-Old

A slide with visual noise in the background.

All you have to do is place a rectangle behind the text but in front of the image and decrease the transparency. The box can occupy the entire background or just the text box area.

You then have something like this, which is much easier to read. There is a notable increase in the contrast between the font color and the background and less visual noise.

After:

slide1

A color overlay and a different image help to reduce the visual noise.

2 Stick to one image per slide.

Here is another slide in need of a serious makeover. First of all, the text over the images is very hard to read. Also, the viewer’s attention is split between two badly distorted images.

Before:

Text-and-images-Old

The viewer’s attention is split between two images.

The goal, then, is to make your main message as clear and impactful as possible. We did away with one of the two images and chose a more appropriate background picture and scaled it properly.

Since it’s a dark image, we also changed the font color to white and used the color overlay technique explained above to ensure text readability. To make the text even more readable, we also added a drop shadow.

After:

slide2

A single image creates impact and sends a clear message.

3 Make quotes stand out.

A good rule to follow when creating presentations is to stick to one main concept per slide. For example, if you have a quote, then place it by itself on a single slide.

In this case, the original slide simply has too much text, which makes it difficult to send a clear and impactful message to the audience.

Before:

Slide-1 Old

Too much text on a slide dilutes the main message.

So, we deleted text, retained the most relevant information, inserted an extra space between lines to let the text breathe and framed the quote to make it stand out.

Choosing the right color palette can also make or break a presentation. Try using Adobe’s Color CC tool to find harmonious color palettes for your presentations.

After:

Slide-1 New

Less text and an effective color scheme create impact.

4 Use the rule of thirds.

Just like in case number 2, here we have a problem with the focal point. Besides being visually jarring, this slide confuses viewers by failing to lead their eyes to a specific point.

Before:

build-skills-and-confidence-learn-to-love-public-speaking-2-728

This slide fails to lead the viewer’s eyes to a focal point.

Instead of dividing the slide in half, we used the rule of thirds, which is a 3×3 grid you can use to locate the focal points on your image, as seen below. This allows the eyes to move freely around the canvas instead of resting in the middle.

slide4.1

Use the rule of thirds to locate focal points.

After:

slide5.1

The viewer’s eyes are naturally led to the main message.

5 Pair contrasting fonts.

When designing anything, contrast is key. For example, if you use a serif font (has a little extra stroke found at the end of the main strokes) for the body text, then use a sans serif font (no extra strokes) for the main title text. Avoid pairing fonts that are too similar.

Before:

florida-ammendment-4-28-728

No contrast between fonts and ill-chosen color scheme.

In this case, we combined a thick and heavy serif font, Oswald, with a lighter san serif font, Old Standard TT.

Also, we moved up the image at the bottom of the slide to avoid the sense that it’s falling off the page, and placed a border around it so it doesn’t seem like it’s floating on the canvas.

After:

slide6

A sans serif and serif font are paired to create contrast.

6 Avoid generic stock photos.

In this slide, tacky stock photos were superimposed to make a new image. Since your photos don’t need to explicitly state everything you want to communicate, you can instead subtly suggest an idea and let the image speak for itself.

Before:

networking-1-728

Tacky stock images make this an unattractive slide.

For example, we redesigned this slide by using an abstract illustration to supplement the text.

After:

stock-photos

Communicate more effectively with images that suggest a concept.

7 Stay away from Word Art.

This slide is a reminder of everything that can go wrong with PowerPoint. First of all, the tacky Word Art and saturated red make this a very unattractive design, to say the least.

Before:

water-microbiology-55-638

Outdated WordArt and saturated red makes this hard to look at.

To show you how far good design can influence your perception of a presentation, we changed the color of the background to a dark blue-gray with low saturation. Next, we did away with the Word Art and replaced it with a cleaner sans serif font.

But we didn’t want to leave it at that. To add a hint of color and a bit more energy to the slide, we used slight accents of the complementary colors green and red. And this was our end product.

After:

slide8

Use accents to add just the right amount of color.

What about your presentation slides? What message do they send to your audience? We would love to hear your thoughts and reactions. Just drop us a line in the comments section below.

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About the Author

Nayomi Chibana is a journalist and writer for Visme’s Visual Learning Center. She has an M.A. in Journalism and Media from the University of Hamburg in Germany and was an editor of a leading Latin American political investigative magazine for several years. She has a passion for researching trends in interactive longform media.

5 responses to “Before and After: 7 Presentation Makeovers (And What You Can Learn From Them)”

  1. Elaine Queiroz says:

    What a great article! Thanks so much for the tips, will definitely start using them right away.

  2. I agree a great article simple and to the point I learnt a lot

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