Whether you’re pitching your product to a new audience or leading a staff meeting, your slide deck is often the most important backup you’ve got. The content of your presentation means nothing if you lose your audience from the first slide. But how do you make it better? Here are 4 quick tips to help improve your slide decks:

1. Outline first, design later

Before you even open your presentation-making program, you need to know what information you’re putting on your slides. What captivating facts and figures can you put at the beginning to lock everyone in? What’s going in the middle? How are you recapturing your audience at the end? Outlining your presentation is a chance for you to keep your presentation simple, yet informative. It can also save you some time editing and help your presentation flow.

2. Create a consistent design

You don’t need an art degree to make your slide deck look nice. Explore the presentation software you’re using, and after you learn the ins and outs of it, you’ll be a pro in no time. When you’re confident enough to create your slide deck, pick a couple of solid fonts and colors that work together and fit your message, then use them throughout.

While you’re creating your slide deck, also keep in mind the 10/20/30 rule: Your slide deck should be around 10 slides (this can be altered to fit the topic), 20 minutes long, and should use no font smaller than 30 pt. Not only will this rule help keep your audience tuned in, but using fonts no smaller than 30 pt will keep you from putting too many words on your slides.

3. Hit the highlights

When it comes to presentations, less is always more. No one enjoys being read to—speak to your audience using the slides as a way to reinforce your main points. Essentially, you’ve got slides to guide your audience and keep you from having to memorize your presentation, but you’re the content. If the audience is too busy trying reading each slide, then they’re missing important information that you’re talking about.

And don’t let a funny meme come between you and a successful presentation. Save the joke-writing for the pros and avoid any pre-planned humor. If you’re able to throw in an off-the-cuff remark to lighten the mood, go for it, but use caution and make sure you know your audience.

Overall, you need to keep things simple and valuable. Your slides should add something to your presentation, not deduct from it. If including a meme or bullet point makes your slide deck that much better, then go ahead and include it. But make sure you think it through first. Ask yourself: “Can I get my point across without it?”

4. Proofread, proofread, proofread

It’s a tale as old as time and yet it’s still so often overlooked: the final proofread. When you’re working on anything that includes copy, someone other than you should proofread it. Once you’ve finished your slide deck, take 10 minutes to read over it so you can fix any errors you see. After that, send it to your cubicle neighbor, their neighbor, the cubicle furthest from you— whoever’s willing to take a look at it so that they can catch any errors you might’ve missed. Finally, you need to proof it again.

The last thing you want is an error or typo on your slide deck. It can hurt your pitch, your credibility and maybe even ruin a potential sale.

Creating a slide deck can be the easiest thing you do for your meeting, just don’t overlook the details. Keep these tips in mind and you’re in for your most successful presentation yet. Still have questions? We’d love to chat.

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