11. Aesthetics

Create clear and convincing internal communications, strategic plans, research reports and other boardroom-style slides.

Aesthetics  

Research shows that when your slides are attractive, people are more likely to agree with your ideas. Slide aesthetics are critically important.

The easiest way to improve the look of your slides is alignment. Turn on your gridlines and make sure everything lines up with something else. It’s amazing how much more professional your slides look when you work with your gridlines on so text, images and charts are all lined up consistently from slide to slide.

A little decoration is okay. After all, PowerPoint is one of the few outlets we still have for our creative expression. But a lot of decoration distracts from our message. You will know the decoration is becoming a distraction if you look at a slide and your first reaction is “cool design!”

There are some things to look out for: overly-saturated colors should be replaced with muted colors, textured backgrounds can be replaced with white or muted backgrounds, drop shadows can be removed, heavy borders around shapes can be replaced with light hairline borders.

It’s okay to use these elements intentionally, but the danger is when you use them accidentally. Accidental use of decorative elements can cause noise on your slide that distracts from your message (in the book, I call these mumblers).

Next: Charts & Tables