12 Most Kickass Slide Design Tips for Non Designers

12 Most Kickass Slide Design Tips for Non Designers

When presenting, you want a kickass slide deck — don’t you?

Good news! These 12 tips are well within your reach as a non-designer.

1. Who’s your audience?

Ask yourself this essential question before you even start thinking about visuals. Are they existing customers, prospects, colleagues, or students? Why are they coming to your presentation? What do they want to get out of it? Make this slide deck all about them. Not you. Them.

2. Ditch the template

Don’t you dare use a template that came with your software! Don’t be tempted to purchase one of those fancy stock templates either. They’re too restricting and won’t reflect your personality. Trust me, you can do this.

3. Get yourself organized

Sketch out exactly what you want to say before you create your first slide. Use paper, sticky notes, outlining software, or a word processor — the choice is yours. Uncover three main points and three supporting points for each one. You don’t have to go crazy, just find a crystal clear direction.

4. Stories, humor, stats, and quotes

Your audience doesn’t want a report. Their time is precious, so don’t waste it. Go beyond a transmission of information. Think through how you can share personal stories, funny anecdotes, interesting statistics, and provocative or inspiring quotes to support the three main points you’ve just outlined.

Read 12 Effective Ways to Create Irresistible Content.

5. Know your C.R.A.P.

Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity. Add contrast to your slides through font choices (see #9). Repeat colors, shapes, and fonts to create visual unity throughout your deck. Always align slide elements with one another, being conscious of where you place them. Group related information through proximity to reduce clutter and provide structure.

Read The Non-Designers Design Book.

6. Keep it dead simple

Your goal here isn’t to win any design awards. The end result should be a clean, clear, and attractive looking deck. Resist the compulsion to put 10 pounds of stuff into a 5 pound bag. Simple designs always look the best. The next few steps will help you get there.

7. Bullets versus headlines

We all grasp the concept of “death by bullet point,” yet so many of us still crank out slides with bullet, bullet, bullet. Stop! Have one message per slide. Use headlines so people get your point in 3 seconds or less (think billboards). See examples here.

Read 5 Easy Tricks to Help You Write Headlines.

8. Try basic shapes

Using circles, squares, rectangles and triangles might sound scary — but they’re simple visuals that can call attention to important content. Have a numbered list? Try placing a square behind each number. See examples here.

9. Use two cool fonts

You know the fonts that came with your computer are boring! Spice it up with two unique, but very different fonts that contrast. For example, one that looks like handwriting combined with one that’s easy to read. See an example here. Just be warned, if you send your deck to someone who doesn’t have those fonts installed, things will look disastrous.

Get free fonts via Font Squirrel.

10. Find incredible images

The perfect image will make a point stick in your audience’s memory. Spend time searching for free photos on CompFight.com, a tool that combs through Flickr images. Just remember to make your images fullscreen, high-quality (no pixelation), and don’t ever use clip-art. For graphics/icons use TheNounProject.com.

Read Find Free Images Quickly Using Compfight and Download Symbols For Presentations From The Noun Project.

11. All you need is three colors

Three colors might sound like a lot, especially if you don’t know a darn thing about picking ones that work together. No sweat! Use black, white, and one favorite color. That’s it. See examples here.

12. Go easy on the animation killer!

Really think hard about how and why you want to use an animation. The two best places to do this are when transitioning between slides or when you want to build in a couple of items to slowly reveal information. We don’t need to see every letter twinkle or image fall into place every time a slide advances.

In this post, I’ve given you 12 kickass ways to go about creating simple yet compelling slides. Go try some of them out right now!

What are the biggest struggles you’ve personally had when creating slide decks? Let me know in the comments below.

Photo credit: Big Stock Photos

Bryan Kelly


Bryan Kelly is an award-winning blogger, successful entrepreneur, and marketing executive whose work has been featured in publications such as the Chicago Tribune and New York Times. His weekly web show, titled What the Speak?!, is all about helping you kick ass when you speak, present, or pitch.

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And when you realize that you've exceeded the human threshold for block arrows, hire a pro to visualize your story.

Marcia Yudkin
Marcia Yudkin


Great tips, and I plan to use some of these ideas as I create Powerpoint slides that I'll be using as part of a video for an online course.  Thank you!

Marcia Yudkin


@Marcia Yudkin that is excellent! Please let me know how it goes. If you have any questions, leave me a note here or via Twitter.