PowerPoint: Still An Essential Design Skill

Graeme The Basics January 5, 2018

That’s right; PowerPoint is still an essential design tool today, even though we all thought it had lost its importance years ago.

I spent many years working with PowerPoint when I was at school, and I studied it further at college. But it wasn’t until I went freelance that I realised how big the demand is for professionally designed PowerPoint presentations.

By the time I received my first request to design a PowerPoint presentation, I hadn’t used it for about five years, and now I use it at least once a month.

I know what you’re thinking; it is probably just old-fashioned, out-of-touch companies that want to use PowerPoint; but you would be wrong. In the last year alone, I have designed PowerPoint presentations for companies as big as O2 and Canon.

Why do companies still use PowerPoint?

The answer is simple; PowerPoint files give clients the freedom to change most of the content after it has been designed.

I would agree that as a designer I would prefer to design presentations as an interactive PDF, so as not to be restricted by file sizes and fonts. But from a client’s point of view, I can completely understand why they want to use PowerPoint.

PowerPoint isn’t as restrictive as you might think

Whenever I design a PowerPoint presentation, I also do the layout using InDesign first. From there it is an easy export of the layers as PNG files, copy the text across and you are good to go.

There is no doubt that PowerPoint limits you from a design point of view, but using InDesign first is definitely a good work around.

Some tips on designing professional presentations using PowerPoint

  1. Don’t use a standard (built-in) theme
    These are incredibly basic. Creating your own theme or just designing each slide as you go is easier than you think.
  2. Use high-resolution imagery
    Good quality imagery at reasonable prices is widely available these days. Personally I use Shutterstock, although the options can sometimes be limited. In those situations I try iStockphoto. Including just a few great images can really lift your PowerPoint presentation.
  3. Don’t overdo the animation
    Animation is great, but sometimes they just remind people that they are looking at a boring old PowerPoint presentation. I use fade for all the slide transitions, and then I tend to build in animation only when it is required.

See some of the PowerPoint presentations I've designed recently