Styling your Presentations by Katya Kovalenko

Katya Kovalenko, a Barcelona-based Presentation and Data Designer and author of three courses on Domestika, was one of our Present to Succeed speakers. In her talk, which was also an entire live demonstration, she showed the conference audience how to style their presentations by sharing her way and favorite resources.

Taking the design decisions that matter

Katya says that her favorite part of styling presentations is the initial art direction. “At least 80% of the process of designing a presentation, has to be or ideally should be done before you even open the presentation software. Before you see this empty slide which we all fear,” she tells us.

So, what separates a good presentation from an amazing one?

It is the moment when you open your presentation software, and you see this blank slide – you already know what to do.

You have made all the design decisions beforehand, so all you have to do now is organize the pieces and consider the layout in the software. The rest is already there. So don’t do what many do – start in PowerPoint, Keynote, or your favorite presentation tool. Start by following the workflow (process) that you are going to see below.

On what do we base those decisions?

Katya has worked with many early-stage businesses that did not have a solid brand identity yet, and she had to create one from scratch.

The method she uses is essentially a branding exercise. She creates a mood board first using only external visual references. Then it gets translated into the actual design of the slides.

The workflow of styling your presentation

Client discussion

When she works with a client, the first thing she does is schedule a discovery call. She collects information about the company that helps to come up with the design.

Later, she uses the keywords gathered to come up with different art directions. For example, if the keyword is technology, it resonates in the color palette and typography and has more complex visual elements. For the keyword future, Katya shows us a lighter and more transparent style.

Gathering inspiration

With the keywords in mind, start browsing for external design references for inspiration like Pinterest,, Behance, dribbble.

Save the images into a folder. It does not matter if they match or not yet, Katya tells us.

Then use any software you would like to put the images together. Katya shows us how she does it directly in Keynote.

She has made a template that works for her, where she can also select only parts of the image that she wants. She also has added a slider feature which shows if the design is more, for example, classic or modern, or elegant or playful.

Visual language

Katya tells us that visual language is not always that easy for someone that is not a designer to understand, so she came up with the slider solution.

It allows the client to determine whether the style is aligned with the company’s values. It translates the visual style into something more tangible and concrete.

Preparing the actual design

The next step is to turn the mood board into the finished design.

Katya tells us we can use the exact mood board to pick the colors from. We already can see what kind of graphs and elements we will use.

More about Katya and her process

In the Q&A session, she tells us she presents several mood boards to clients because they love to choose. This way, you can set the expectations and save yourself many later fixes, because it is, after all, something that they have chosen.

She also believes that introducing something fresh to an established brand by mixing and matching is great. Any major brand should strive to be scalable and ever-evolving.

When asked what her favorite tool is, she unquestionably replies that it is Keynote. Even when she has to do a PowerPoint presentation, she completes the first design version in Keynote before exporting it to PowerPoint. Then she repairs everything that has not transferred well and then finishes it there.

What can you apply and improve your work

If your design is inconsistent with your content or your brand, your presentations will undoubtedly suffer from it. And we’re sure you don’t want that. Our advice? The next time you have an important presentation, try Katya’s process yourself and let us know how it is working for you!

Reading is great, but why not see the whole session by yourself? Buy the Tools Track Recordings for just €29 or all the conference session recordings for €49!


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