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5 presentation sins to avoid

PowerPoint is quite powerful…only if you use it to your advantage.

As a presentation design agency, we get to see a lot of slide decks every day. And there are always so many slides that have common mistakes we like to call “The sins of presentation design”. In this article, I’ll share the things we see & learn from so that you can avoid them in your next presentation design.

Sin No 1: Too much text

So you’re sitting at your desk & your head is filled with ideas. You’re probably thinking “If I add all my ideas to the deck, it’ll showcase my extensive work”. Trust me, you’ll do yourself a disservice by creating an overwhelming deck. Even if you’re a neuroscientist or spent 11 years researching in Antarctica, the audiences are humans. It’s humanly impossible to read and listen at the same time.

To reduce text, create a narrative hierarchy structure, and segregate concepts by importance/relevance into primary, secondary, and tertiary. Now add the primary content into your slides, the secondary into your speech, and sometimes you have to just eliminate the tertiary.

Sin No 2: Wrong design focus

Do you like well-designed presentations? Who doesn’t? But be careful about designing with an entirely wrong focus.

For example, a few weeks ago we came across a pitch deck where the problem slide was designed at least 3 times brighter than the solution slide. This made the deck look problem-focused instead of solution-focused.

If you’d like to avoid this, do visualization before you even touch the design template. This is like hitting two birds with one stone, giving you a structure to work with & save your redesigning time.

Sin No 3: Too much design.

Presentation design can get really gaudy real quick!

Have you seen the slides where there’s text, icons, illustrations, infographics & everything that comes under the banner of design? That’s a bad idea.

Instead, embrace minimalism, the Scandinavians love it for a reason, because it works. It provides resting space for the eyes and good visuals get your message across.

Sin No 4: Losing business context

If I’m to talk of the “hit” concepts going around these days, two things come to mind - Storytelling & personal branding. But most people are doing it wrong! There’s a huge misunderstanding about the word storytelling.

Storytelling isn’t about going on & on about your personal story, journey, or personal details (unless you’re giving a ted talk). The story we presentation design companies refer to is the one with “business context”, the story of your business as an individual entity.

If you’d like to get it right, try defining your brand’s personality using adjectives you’d use for a person. This will help you craft a meaningful narrative with a human touch.

Sin No 5: Wrong slide-to-speech ratio

This one’s a bit tricky. Say you have 30 minutes, should you use a PowerPoint presentation with 10 slides where you spend 3 minutes on each slide, or should you use 30 slides where you spend one minute per slide?

The dilemma is, if you use too less slides, it’ll bore the audience. If you use too many slides, they won’t be able the grasp the concepts fast enough.

There’s no black-and-white solution to this problem. It really is about the rehearsal & feedback! Once you have someone watching you present, they can give you feedback on whether you’re going too fast or too slow. Just let them know what they’re supposed to be observing.


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