5 Presentation Design Mistakes (That You Should Stop Making)

Who doesn’t enjoy a well-designed presentation? One of the most significant aspects of a great presentation is exactly how it is visually made. Presentation design can be a tricky part of crafting a clear message, and if you do not pay attention, you could easily make some of the most common presentation design mistakes.

So, check out our five presentation design tips for better presentation design below.

Why this topic is important

One thing that is frequently overlooked when it comes to presentation design is that it is all about the message, not the graphics. And when the visuals are not supporting or are even distracting from your message, then you have a bad design. Take this from us, a team of professional presentation designers and storytellers who know how to develop outstanding presentation designs from beginning to end.

Your audience should be able to glance over at your presentation and return their attention to you, the speaker, not be distracted by the content on your slides.

There are some common mistakes that you can easily avoid, and you can learn how from the video below that features our very own Marinela, one of the extremely talented 356labs presentation designers. After years of working with clients, she knows all about the errors that people make in their presentations and what goes into developing an effective presentation design.

So here are the 5 of the most common design mistakes

1. Lack of Visual Hierarchy

The most common mistake we encounter is a lack of visual hierarchy. It might be quite perplexing for your audience if there is no distinct contrast in the sizing and style of your slides’ header and body text. People’s eyes will automatically skim through your content the way you want them to if you optimize it in the proper hierarchy. Your slide should be as simple to read and understand as a traffic sign you pass while driving.

A slide showing a mistake in presentation design

For the example of visual hierarchy, we used a slide from a presentation that we have worked on called Scientific Doesn’t Mean Boring for Kendall Haven, which you can see here, in our portfolio, in more detail. 

2. No contrast

The lack of contrast is the second most prevalent problem we encounter. Everything looks like a blur together when colors of the same vibrancy are used together. Having a nice contrast in your color choices keeps your audience visually interested. Without contrast, the slide will be difficult to read, and you may miss out on the opportunity to highlight essential information with colors.

Always coordinate your text color with the background to be pleasing to the eye and easily readable on any device or screen where your presentation might be viewed. When in doubt – go for a darker background and a lighter text. We suggest you avoid definite black or white because strong colors can interfere with a readability as well.

A slide showing a mistake in presentation design

For showing the importance of contrast in the colors you are using, we used a slide from a presentation that we have worked on called Scientific Doesn’t Mean Boring for Kendall Haven, which you can see here, in our portfolio, in more detail. 

3. Too much information

We all have seen slides that are full of text, random images, or memes that are just too much to take in. You can do better. Keep the clutter and your speaker’s notes outside your slides; otherwise, your audience will become too distracted, and left unsure of what to look at.

You can also reduce the amount of content by adding a few extra slides and ensuring that each slide only contains the most critical information. Nice and clear is way better than overwhelming. Your presentation is there to support your message, not to distract your audience from you.

When in doubt – have no more than one line of text that contains the key part of your message.

By the way, if you need some additional tips and techniques for finding content for your presentations, we have a free ebook called Presentation Design Resources, which you can find in our shop. It is, however, fully free.

4. Using overcomplicated transitions and animations

It can look pretty outdated when you see overused transitions like the Vortex, Page Peel, and so on. And when you think about it, transitions often do not bring any value to what you are presenting. Furthermore, complicated transitions can appear choppy during virtual calls and presentations. And on top of that, they might, once again, take the focus away from what you are saying.

The solution to this is to not overcomplicate. If something else is missing from your presentation’s content, transitions cannot compensate for it. They are not there to impress by how different and creative they can be, but to help you transition smoothly from one point to the next in your presentation.

We recommend keeping things simple by using transitions and animations sparingly and only when essential.

A slide showing a mistake in presentation design

For this common mistake, we used a slide from our work for Pernod Ricard. You can check out the case study here

5. No font, color, and style coherency

Colors are crucial, as we all know, but having them coordinated with one another is much more so. Then, there’s the matter of having fonts that function nicely together.

Always strive for unity and consistency. Everything from the titles to the color palette to the body text to the page numbers must be in sync.
When in doubt, pick a universal typeface like Open Sans, Montserrat, or Raleway, and limit yourself to two or three font types.

A slide showing a mistake in presentation design

For this example, we also used Scientific Doesn’t Mean Boring, which we have designed for Kendall Haven. Check it out here, in our portfolio, for more. 

Takeaways from this article

“Good design is invisible,” as we like to quote Dieter Rams. If your design is good, your message will be supported by your presentation. But if you have a badly designed presentation, the audience will be the first to notice the flaws.

Those were the five presentation design mistakes people make carelessly sometimes. We hope we were of use to you, and see you next time!

Yes, see you next time because we are making this a series.

Meanwhile, this year’s Present to Succeed Conference has a complete track devoted to Presentation Design. And, guess what? You can get the recordings of that invaluable Presentation Design knowledge for just €39. And for €79, you can get all the 30+ sessions from Present to Succeed 2021.

You may also learn more about presentation design by visiting our blog’s Presentation Design category.

Check out the video itself

YouTube video