The most engaging way to communicate is to keep your words simple.
When IBM developed its branding in the 1920s, it eventually decided on a single word: Think
The word became the driving force behind the company's entire vision, appearing on office walls, signs, and newspaper articles.
Nearly a century later, IBM still uses Think in company publications, and one of its most popular notebook computers is named after it.
So, what's the lesson here?
Simple communication sticks.
Presenting ideas clearly and concisely makes them easier to digest and, more importantly, engages your audience. This guide will walk you through simple (yet powerful) techniques you can use in presentations to make them more engaging.
Let's dive in ⬇️
Several elements make up a great presentation: clear communication, good ideas, and engaging design.
Steve Jobs famously said,
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
People often limit design to the look and feel of something, yet great designs are much more than that, especially in slide presentations. A slide design can clarify the meaning of an idea or message and help the speaker engage deeply with their audience.
But what is the best layout to use on a slide to communicate ideas?
At Prezent, we've assessed over 1 million slides from our customers' presentations. With that data, we’ve found that 23 layouts—split into three types—stand out above the rest. Let's take a closer look at them:
System layouts are perfect for presenting ideas that are independent of one another.
From our assessment, there are eight slide designs using this format that will make your presentation pop:
The next type of slide design is movement. This style is ideal if your ideas or discussion points need to be presented in order or follow a storyline.
Again, eight designs fit into this layout style:
The final format for engaging slide designs—time—is used best when the ideas of a presentation are connected.
Here are the top seven designs used by presenters:
Take any of these 23 slide designs and adapt them to make your next presentation more engaging.
⚡ Prezent Pro-Tip: 3 best practices for choosing the perfect slide layout:
Each slide design has its own purpose in a presentation. To choose a design that will make the most impact, ask yourself:
Bullet lists are common in presentations because they keep ideas simple and easy to read.
However, lists do bring their own risks. Overusing bullet lists makes presentations dull, boring, and confusing if used in the wrong scenario. The reality is lists and dot points only really work in two scenarios: as sequences or logical groups.
Let's use an example: a rocket launch. 🚀
Although there are many different phases to work through before the launch, we can break down what’s required for lift-off into digestible details: The company's experts agree on the data; simulation testing is complete; systems are ready; the launch date has also been set.
This is how the information would be presented to the company's team using a bullet list:
Can you spot the problem? 🤔
Using a bullet list to communicate information about the launch makes it seem like all four points are equal, but this is a mistake. Take a closer look at the first three points. Clearly, they are merely supporting the final point (the main purpose of the presentation), which is the launch.
Rather than using bullet points to communicate this information, causality would be a better approach. Here's an example:
This slide design makes it clearer that the work leading up to the launch has been completed and focuses the audience's attention on the main event—the launch. 🚀
If there's one company that knows how to communicate value and engage its audience, it's Canva.
The company is barely a decade old. But its rapid growth and 75 million active users prove a simple offer and value proposition can resonate with a huge audience. Guy Kawasaki, Canva's Chief Evangelist, says it all comes down to erring on the side of brevity when describing an idea.
"Most ideas, most products and services, they're always described with a bunch of superfluous, extraneous adjectives," he says.
"Some of it may just be ignorance that people don't understand the power of simplicity, the power of brevity. Some of it may be so much a marketing and sales and evangelism and positioning and branding is abdicated to consulting firms and agencies."
Kawasaki takes a different approach. He tries to build a mantra, sometimes using as little as three or four words, to communicate an idea.
"If I were to describe the essence of why I exist, I could do that in two words: empower people."
Says Kawasaki, "There should be one verb and a noun. Power is a verb, and people is a noun."
The lesson is simple: it's possible to say more with less.
Presentations have a lot of moving parts.
Beyond the information and ideas you're presenting, you must keep your audience engaged if you want any of them to stick. The best way to do this is with simple yet powerful designs that communicate your ideas with maximum impact.
Use these presentation slide ideas to supercharge your next presentation. And remember—less is more.