4 Easy PowerPoint Principles for Visually Engaging Slides

I have to admit it–I’m not a big fan of PowerPoint presentations.  Not as they are usually done, anyway!  A bunch of text or data thrown on a screen isn’t very engaging.  Worse yet is when people read their slides.  However, there are a few things you can do for your very next presentation that will make your presentation “pop” and engage your audience.  Do you have some other simple tips?
Slides with transcription of audio:

All too often a PowerPoint presentation is the Kiss of Death for an audience.  You don’t want to be THAT presenter do you?  Today I’m going to give you some EASY ways to make your PowerPoint slides “Pop” that your audience will love!I’ll briefly give examples of 4 EASY Power Point Principles:

1. Go BIG—Use Big Pictures
2. Create Contrast with Pictures not Words
3. Try the Photographer’s Secret—The “Rule of thirds”  for eye-catching slides
4. Less is More—the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle for PowerPoint Presentations

Here is an average PowerPoint slide:  Title on top, picture on the bottom.  It could be worse—it could be all text.  It could be a difficult-to-see picture.  Or there could be too many pictures.  So, it’s not too bad.  But there is something really simple that you can do to have a greater impact.

Yep—just use a BIG picture.  Let the picture take up the whole slide, if possible.  Rather than have a title, Just talk about the slide or maybe have a single word “Empowerment.”  When a picture takes up a whole slide our minds imagine the picture bleeding off the edge, so it’s even bigger than what you have on the slide.

Here it is again, the average PowerPoint slide

Big Picture Impact

A different crop—and maybe a little more interesting.  Try using the “Photographers Secret” The Rule of thirds for some of your images

Imagine your slide divided into horizontal and vertical thirds—the intersections are the “Power Points” of your Power Point slide —where the focus of your image can have greater visual impact.  It can also give a picture a different “feel”

Here’s the same picture with the grid overlaid. Now, you don’t actually have to have a grid.  You can just estimate it.

  Here’s another tree picture—quite different from the first!

  Notice that it is fairly centered.  This picture gives me a sense of foreboding and a feeling of being dominated –like I can’t escape.  What if I crop it just a little bit differently?

This is only a slightly different angle—but having more sky on the right gives me a feeling of greater hope.  Play around with your composition and evoke different emotions in your audience.
You can also use the rule of thirds with placement of people in your pictures.
Again with the grid overlaid.

So, Do you want to Stand Out in a crowd and have your PowerPoint Slides Be more visually interesting to engage your audience?  Remember to use BIG PICTURES and . . .

Try using the Rule of Thirds—You can use it to place pictures AND TEXT in the Power Point positions!  Another way to engage your audience is to use . . .
. . . Eye-catching contrast.  Our brains are hard-wired to notice contrast.

Don’t do this—don’t make your text color and background color too similar.  It might be easy for you to see on your computer screen but it isn’t so easy from the back of the room.

Easier to read, isn’t it?  However, some of the best use of contrast isn’t really in what you write.  For example, let’s look at the weekly groceries for 2 families. This information is from the book “Hungry Planet.”

Here’s a family from the U.S.  I could, like many presenters, also read the slide to you, which begs the question—why have a slide if you are just going to read it?  Just note that they spend a lot of money.

Here’s a family from Chad–$1.23.  It’s hard to imagine isn’t it!?!  But is there a more effective way to present the information—a way that will have greater impact?  Remember the saying . . .

 A picture is worth . . . a thousand words!  Here is another way to convey the contrast:
The groceries that the US family consumed in a week.

A week’s worth of food for the Chad family.  Pictures are a shortcut to our minds.  They are a short cut to our emotions.  A picture is worth  a thousand words.

And LESS is MORE!  With a picture you can convey MOREwith using LESS—fewer words can actually help people understand what you are trying to get across.  Let’s say I wanted to compare the percentage of people who own multiple dogs vs. the percentage who own multiple cats.
I could use a table.  Note my table contains extra information.  I really only want to talk about the fact that 40% of dog owners own more than one dog while 52% of cat owners own more than one cat.  Maybe a chart would be easier?
Well, Maybe not—I had to write out the statement “Cat owners are more likely to own multiple cats”  What if we just used a couple of pictures?
40 percent of dog owners own more than one dog while . . .
52% of Cat owners own more than one cat.  Much more appealing—Less is More, our final principle.

Also remember to:

Go BIG—Use Big Pictures

Create Contrast with Pictures not Words

Try the Photographer’s secret—The “Rule of thirds”  for eye-catching slides

I do have one bonus principle for you . . .

This is me.  I like to have fun in my presentations—and you certainly can add some fun to your slides

—even little changes can make them fun.   Don’t let your PowerPoint slides be the Kiss of Death!

Keep it Simple, Bold and interesting and your Audiences will love you!


About Diane Windingland
I speak for organizations that want their people to have better, more profitable conversations.

2 Responses to 4 Easy PowerPoint Principles for Visually Engaging Slides

  1. What an informative powerpoint presentation…about powerpoint presentations! Very useful tips that I will be incorporating right away. Thank you!

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