The world is demanding more effective presentations, and presenters and their teams now have the tools and training materials available to create their own slides. But is this enough? A presenter could make some improvements to a presentation, but what skills and characteristics do PowerPoint designers have that really enable them to create world-class presentations?
We asked three of our designers to list the qualities they thought made a good PowerPoint designer. These are the guys who turn the visualised storyboards our consultants have sent over into beautiful, effective works of art. Here are their responses:
What makes a good PowerPoint designer?
In my opinion, there are certain skills that PowerPoint designers should have:
Open-mindedness – PowerPoint is generally considered basic presentation software, but if you approach the programme with an open mind and a willingness to experiment, you will be surprised at how effectively the programme can be utilised.
Creative problem solving skills – A client or visualisation consultant often asks for things to be done on a slide that are not possible using PowerPoint’s standard features. However, using a combination of techniques that we have developed over the years, and incorporating aspects of Photoshop and Illustrator, virtually anything is possible. Creative problem solving skills are extremely useful in helping work round the limitations of PowerPoint.
Design skills – Being a Photoshop or Illustrator expert won’t automatically make you a good PowerPoint designer, but skills, experience and knowledge drawn from such programmes do come in useful. Traditional design skills are at the core of what we do – but they have to be adapted to work best in the medium of PowerPoint.
An eye for detail – A small imperfection or mistake may be unnoticeable when it is on a monitor, but would be glaringly obvious when magnified by a projector. So designers need to be careful to avoid imperfections, and to ensure that they follow strict quality control processes.
Simon Humphreys, PowerPoint Designer
The key to not only PowerPoint, but to all great design is to make sure that you have your foundations right. Designers should spend time at the beginning of a piece of work, i.e. before embarking upon the design of a PowerPoint slide, to really understand the layout and information that needs to be designed on it. Once you have the foundations in place, such as your template settings including colour and text, you are then able to build layers upon these basics, incorporating impressive designs that work in an engaging environment.
In order to be an effective PowerPoint designer, having an understanding of how PowerPoint ticks is vital. Most things you can create in other design programmes such as Photoshop and Illustrator can be replicated inside PowerPoint, especially since the introduction of PowerPoint 2010. It’s just having the knowhow and patience to explore how to make it possible.
The important thing to remember when designing in PowerPoint is that the slides are not just there to look great – someone will actually be presenting with them. It is therefore the designer’s responsibility to ensure that what we create is not only impressive, but will also prove engaging and memorable for the audience, guaranteeing an effective presentation for all.
Vincent Thompson, PowerPoint Designer
Any area of design should fundamentally be about communicating a message, not just looking good. While an attractive poster or magazine advert is aesthetically pleasing, it’s simply a pretty picture if it doesn’t also serve a purpose. PowerPoint is no different.
It could be said that PowerPoint design has an additional hurdle to overcome. Every would-be presenter knows the dangers of Death by PowerPoint, and almost every office worker or audience member shudders when being told they’re to sit through a PowerPoint presentation. Pre-conceptions exist that a presentation must overcome in order to get the audience’s attention.
As far as I see it, designing effectively for PowerPoint has two underlying aspects:
- Breaking down the barriers (pre-conceptions) that audiences bring with them to a presentation
- Making the audience’s assimilation and retention of the information as easy as possible
Number one is achieved through impressive design that has the aesthetic impact to make the audience sit up and take notice. It’s then vital for the second point that the design takes a back seat and doesn’t try to take away any of the focus from the message.
Number two is achieved through a solid understanding of design principles in general and a good knowledge of what PowerPoint can do technically. There are a number of tricks and rules that we use to ensure that the audience can understand the information that is being shown to them, and that they’re not snapped out of this state of assimilation by a design quirk or needless distraction.
Effective design necessitates a sense of purpose. Presentation design requires that the message is conveyed in the most effective way possible whilst looking amazing. Only afterwards, if the audience / client realise that we’ve done it all in PowerPoint, should it become impressive in its own right.
Mark Bullock, PowerPoint Designer
Want to improve your PowerPoint skills? Check out our Advanced PowerPoint Training course.
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