PowerPoint is stressful, isn’t it? It shouldn’t be. There’s nothing special about it. You use it everyday. It’s just text, diagrams, and pictures. And yet it still manages to eat up whole hours of your time. You have to edit, review, and revise the same slides over and over for other people. You have to sit through hour after hour of slide-based meetings. And you’re probably not entirely proud of the slides you’re making or the slides your organization publishes, are you? Well, that’s just plain wrong.
In our ongoing efforts to bring you workplace information that is at least partially entertaining and very nearly useful, I am pleased to bring you the following presentation design links.
Slidecasts are PowerPoint presentations without the presenter. They are slides specifically created to be viewed/read by total strangers without anyone speaking, and yet they still convey important business information in a compelling fashion. So, in essence, these slides are so good they can succeed without an expert to take you through them.
Take a look at the following seven examples from SlideShare to get a few design ideas that you might apply to your own slides.(You know, the ones that do have presenters!)
- “Shift Happens” – These simple slides in bold colors use illustrative graphics and limited text to make some dramatic points about human demographic shifts.
- “Death by PowerPoint” – Strong graphics and simple statements are all you need to communicate effectively.
- “The Brand Gap” – This business presentation in black and white presents one simple yet powerful idea at a time.
- “Visual Effects in PowerPoint 2003” – Design principles illustrated, plain and simple.
- “Thirst” – Fascinating facts about water, demonstrating the power of photographic elements in your presentation.
- “Improving Interface Design” – A discussion of design principles featuring some sharp white-on-gray text slides.
- “Nokia brand & design priorities” – You know who Nokia is. Cell phones. This is a major corporation. But notice how these corporate slides don’t have titles, headers, footers, logos, or page numbers! This company has the confidence and the competence to deliver business messages without covering their slides in administrative nonsense (chartjunk!). Bravo, Nokia!
Templates are nice. They do some of the design work for you: find the art, space out the text boxes, pick out fonts and colors. But they’re only a first step. You’re still going to need to customize any template to fit your corporate brand and to fit your personal presentation. Here are a few sites you can visit to acquire free (and non-free) presentation templates and backgrounds, as well as animated slide designs.
All the fancy art and animation in the world will not make your presentation any “good.” In fact, I pointed out the shortcomings of such content in an earlier article. But to produce superior professional presentations, you should use the best resources you can find, including art and photography. Just remember to use them because you have a good reason to use them, and not just because they look cool.
1. Microsoft (free)
The PPT templates on Microsoft’s site are all free, and they feature a variety of themes and colors, but you’re not likely to find anything on the bleeding edge of design. Use these templates as a rough starting point to create something original, dynamic, and effective.
2. TemplatesWise (free)
These templates are free, and like Microsoft they feature some nice artwork, but the designs themselves are all the same: chunky banners and text boxes. Try customizing one to better represent your organization.
3a. PoweredTemplates (free)
The free templates on PoweredTemplates give you a great range of background art and photography, but the same headers and designs throughout. (And many of them seem to be holiday-themed. What’s that about?) The free templates include three slides.
3b. PoweredTemplates (not free)
Most of the content on this site is available for a fee (around $12), but I’d like to draw your attention to the animated slides (around $32). These may make your files huge and not really add any “content” but, you have to admit, they look good. This is the sort of material that can make a huge impact on certain audiences (i.e., people who say “ooh” and “aah” a lot). These downloads include 3 masters and 17 slides of sharp-looking graphics.
4. AnimationFactory (subscription)
This site offers not only original art but animated slide backgrounds as well. You’ll have to pay a yearly subscription fee ($60-$200) to download the templates, but if you’re looking for something really exciting, hover your mouse over the animated samples to see globes and gears spin in your headers and footers.
5. Free PPT Templates (free)
If you have a handle on design and just want some art for your background, try this site. The art is free and available in an array of colors and designs. I recommend using something that is uniformly light or uniformly dark (like the samples below). Avoid “busy” backgrounds.
6. Template Monster ($40 and up)
Here is a site I really like, although I’d like it more if the templates were free. The designs here favor dark backgrounds with light text, and the headings and logos tend to be smaller than the content. Which is good. Plus, the art is very slick, and if you’re looking for art, it’s worth finding (and paying for) the best. I particularly like this one and this one, although some of the sample text is awfully small. (But a template is just a starting point, right? You would fix that, wouldn’t you? Say, “Yes.”)
There is a world of possibility out there for making your presentations better, and the links above are just a small sampling of what is available today. Once you know what the purpose of your presentation is (to sell a product, to explain an idea, or just to entertain!), invest some time in slide design. Preferably, do this before you’re faced with the 30-minute deadline.
Art, animation, color, text, photography, and layout can either carry you to victory, or sink your battleship. So get out there and prepare your arsenal today!
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