Man under pressure with Presentation

The symptoms of  the phenomenon which is Death by Powerpoint, pre-Covid times, were easily recognised by observing the audience members’ glazed eyes, furtive use of smartphones and trips to the bathroom. The present  Zoom-era equivalent includes all of the above, plus your audience sending private messages to one another, browsing online and generally not giving your precious presentation their full attention. You don’t want this happening to you, and this adds to the pressure. 



The thing about PowerPoint is that it’s got so many options. It could be said that it’s strengths are your weakness. You want your presentation to look good, to have that awe factor – but at the same time you  don’t want your presentation falling into the Death by PowerPoint category. But god that animation looks great. And those transitions. And that morphing effect! As Don Macmillan aptly put it in his brilliant sketch Life After Death by Powerpoint, “PowerPoint can suck the life out of you”.  So, how to avoid this and design a presentation that engages? 




Top 5 Tips


The following are my top five tips to help you design an engaging PowerPoint: 


1. Avoid stock templates 

How can you stand out if you are using a template which is already used by others? This is the lazy approach and immediately sets you off on the wrong footing with your audience. Start from a clean slide and build from there.



2. Use no more than three colours

(Four at an absolute max!) As we know, when it comes to design, less is usually more. Try to keep it simple and try to not use too many colours. It’s harder to place emphasis when there are too many colours. And make sure to stick to the exact colour shade, unless going for a gradient effect. 



3. Use single images

More than one image per slide automatically makes the slide look cluttered. Too many pictures on one slide is asking our brains to take in more information that is necessary, especially if there is text on the slide. 



4. No Transitions

Yes, there are plenty of cool looking transitions, but don’t bother. It’s just another distraction and unnecessary. 



5. Don’t use Serif font 

In typography, a serif is a small line or stroke regularly attached to the end of a larger stroke in a letter or symbol. Serif fonts tend to be harder to read on a slide as they bleed together. Just avoid them and use Sans Serif fonts. 





I specialise in helping my clients design visually appealing presentations that keep the audience engaged, while looking highly professional and designed for results. Feel free to reach out if you are feeling a little under pressure with your presentation!


Cormac Cullen
Cormac Cullen

Instructional Designer and PowerPoint maven. I am interested in all things design and like to help my clients get the best from their presentation pitch.