Design for Your Business Presentations

July 17, 2009 | Design Basics

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Two charts we designed for our client AllergyFree Passport.

Two charts we designed for our client AllergyFree Passport.

Seth Godin has a great piece about making charts that work over at his blog. Godin’s books, blogs and presentations are widely read and viewed and I’m excited whenever a thinker like this points out the importance of design in making a business presentation.

He has this quote, (although I don’t know where he found the stats!) that really summed up the problem of most business presentations.

92% of all the business presentations made in the United States are done with templates created by big companies in Excel or Powerpoint. This is a horrible tragedy… when you show me something exactly like something I’ve seen a hundred times before, what do you expect me to do? Here’s a hint: Zzzzzz.

It seems like people want to follow a formula for the way a presentation should look. And this formula has been created by Microsoft. The problem is that Microsoft—as strong a company as it is—is not particularly strong in the design, identity and branding arena. I don’t need to remind you of all the comparisons between the clunky Microsoft products vs. the cool, sleek Apple products.

4 Tips for more professional looking presentations

  1. Override the defaults and work your own brand identity into a presentation. Go into the color picker and find your corporate colors as the accent colors for your graphs. Use your corporate fonts, not the default Times or Arial.
  2. Go easy on the lines. It seems like these programs like to put 3-d shaded lines into spreadsheets, and like to outline color blocks in bar graphs. All these lines are unnecessary, taking them out will clean up the look.
  3. Create a template so that all of your presentations look cohesive and professional. You can hire a designer to do this for you once, and then you reuse it over & over. It’s like putting a high-quality and consistent frame around whatever you present.
  4. If you’re going to publish a white paper or distribute sales & marketing materials that really demands a professional, high-quality look, be prepared to leave the bounds of Microsoft. Allow a graphic designer to pull the data into a professional program such as Adobe Illustrator.

One comment

  1. Logo mats | November 16, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Wow just found this page really by mistake looking for something else. You have a nice blog and some interesting information, will check back soon.

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