What Causes Powerpoint Slide Design Failure

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When does slide design become a distraction in business presentations? When do you get overshadowed by your slides? Learn the 5 reasons for slide design failure.

What is the purpose of PowerPoint slide design?

The purpose of a good design is to bring clarity to your core message.

An effective design channelizes the attention of your audience to the core aspects of your slide. So, your message is understood faster and retained longer.

Let’s see the reasons why a presentation slide design fails.

Slide design failure 1: The design is ‘clever’ instead of being ‘clear’

Presentation Design Failure Image
We took this slide from one of the new genre of presentations, where every slide looks like the title slide. The slide looks absolutely beautiful. Don’t you agree?

But – what is the message of this slide? What clarity does red chili add to the core message (if there was one)? Why should audience strain their neck to read the vertical text?

When the audience says ‘Wow’ to the slide – are they appreciating the message or the picture?

This is a classic example of a ‘clever’ but not clear slide. This is a critical factor when evaluating slide design.

In a business presentation – such slides fail miserably. They don’t support the main objective of the presenter, which is to influence the audience to make a decision.

As a business presenter, when you have to choose between a ‘clever representation of your idea’ and ‘clear representation of your idea’ – choose clarity every single time. Save those clever slides for your child’s school project and let your business slides mean business.

Slide design failure 2:  Design is too obvious

When your design is good, your audiences see the message and not the design.

Design Failure Animation Image
GIF animations are passé. Loud backgrounds look cheap. Get rid of every element on your slide that doesn’t add clarity to your message. Ruthlessly de-clutter your slides, till your message can breathe freely.

When your slides start entertaining instead of informing your audience, you become invisible as a business presenter.

Slide design failure 3: Form dominates function

Design Failure Background Image
When background competes with foreground for attention, it indicates dominance of form over function. It is painful to see people purchasing PowerPoint templates with such distracting backgrounds.

When your audience has to struggle to get your message, they switch off. So, never let your content to be at the mercy of your slide design.

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Slide design failure 4: Clarity is forsaken for beauty

Design Failure in Data Image
In the above slide, the column charts are beautiful but useless, because audience can’t identify the meaning of the two colors.

When you are presenting data, clarity comes before beauty. Make the numbers as straightforward and easy to understand as possible. Never cut out relevant information in trying to keep your PowerPoint Slide Design clean.

 Related: 5 Steps to Present Data Better

Slide design failure 5: Decoration is confused with design

Presentation Design Failure Beauty Image
There is a big difference between decoration and design. The above slide is decorated beautifully. The text looks like poetry. But, does the slide stir the right emotion in you?

Take a look at this slide:

Presentation Design Correct Image
The same information is presented with a good design. The picture evokes emotions. The text placed at the bottom of the visual explains the title.

By avoiding the mistakes we discussed, you can create slides that support you instead of taking away the attention from you.

Point to note when designing slides…

The principles of PowerPoint Slide Design vary according to the purpose of your presentation. The five design failures we discussed are applicable to business presentations.

We feel that the best way to communicate your ideas visually in a business presentation is to use visual diagrams.

 Related: Simple Ways to Use Visual Metaphors

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