Each PowerPoint presentation has a specific purpose, and the design of your slideshow must work toward that purpose. For a professional PowerPoint design that does its job effectively, you must keep in mind certain elements. These have to do with visual rhetoric, or the way in which a visual stimulus–such as your PowerPoint–influences the thoughts and emotions of your audience.
Aesthetic and Anesthetic
A well designed PowerPoint will have aesthetic appeal. The term aesthetic has to do with the attractiveness of a piece of work, or rather, how it affects the senses. Obviously, you want your presentation to have aesthetic appeal. What often results from unprofessional design, however, is an unaesthetic or anesthetic experience. For those who are familiar with anesthetics for surgeries and whatnot, you know that this is not what you want for your audience. Your goal is to stimulate and engage their senses, not deaden them. Strong design that builds toward a specific purpose is the key.
Part of engaging your audience’s senses comes from the emotional appeal of your presentation. The design of your slides plays a key role in this. For example, if you want to incite the audience toward donating funds to a cause, you need to portray that cause in a way that will instill certain emotions: empathy, hope, kindness, duty, etc. The color scheme and tone contribute a great deal toward this emotional output. If the scheme is dull or just does not fit, then it may invoke either the wrong feelings or none at all.
Another aspect of engaging your audience is through the layout of visual and written elements on each slide. The arrangement of photographs, illustrations, charts, text, etc. should direct the attention of the viewer toward your purpose and enhance your key points. Furthermore, everything needs to be arranged in an interesting way. Poor composition pitfalls, such as perfectly even spacing and sizing, look dull and unprofessional, and they can can anesthetize your audience. Conversely, by varying spacing, sizes, and the “flow” that the elements create on each slide, you are far more likely to capture–and keep–your audience’s attention.
Briefly put, the combination of colors, tones, shapes, spacing, and positioning in your PowerPoint can either leave a lasting impression in people’s minds or allow your message to fade away into meaningless nothing. Naturally, a professionally designed PowerPoint would accomplish the former rather than the latter.