There are two key challenges when it comes to presentation design, and both are equally important to address. Firstly, and obviously, your deck should look good—and even beyond that—represent and embody your brand. Secondly, your slides should be able to introduce your ideas as clearly and as quickly as possible. When designing a presentation, think in equal parts about being visually appealing and on-trend, and also about presenting information in a way that your audience can easily understand.
The best presentation designs get each of these areas right. But finding the balance between showcasing what you can do and keeping your design accessible can be difficult.
We’re seeing more digital presentations than ever, including social media slideshows. And with this, the bar has been raised as far as storytelling and ways to bring your digital presentations to life.
Fundamentally, your presentation’s design is what the story will be built on the back of.
Designing a Presentation: 6 Trends to Know
It’s important to remember that presentations aren’t separate to the latest graphic design trends—and in fact, presentation design has trends all of its own. If your work embraces the latest and greatest in graphic design, so should any slide deck you’re putting together, whether it’s a corporate report or a creative proposal.
With this in mind, let’s look at six presentation trends worth knowing about this year.
#1 Dark Backgrounds (with Neon)
This trend draws strongly on 1980s vaporwave and synthwave—the legacy of electronic music and video game aesthetics that we can’t seem to get enough of in terms of design trends. Lately, this trend has also gained traction through our day-to-day use of tech. Maybe you’ve noticed more of your friends going for ‘dark mode’ on their iPhones rather than classic white (which for so long was considered the more polished approach to web or app design).
As a result of its popularity in design and tech, this look has spilled over to influence styles like neumorphic designs, with their slick look and opportunity for high contrast.
It nearly goes without saying that neons and dark backgrounds go together. So, to add a punch to your presentation and spotlight your key information, this is definitely a fun trend to try. It’s also a good way to be playful, without compromising your professionalism.
Authenticity has become somewhat of a buzzword, but the importance of remembering it (as well as understanding and employing it in any kind of marketing or branding you do) really can’t be understated. Being authentic in your design means no more cheesy stock photography. With presentation design, as with all your branded content, your brand’s personality needs to shine through clearly and honestly.
Essentially, a presentation is a communication tool for your brand. Mastering authenticity is a skill, but presentation templates can be a great way to get started or find ideas for everything from slide designs for informal talks to professional business reports.
Aside from practice, the authenticity design trend doesn’t require any bells and whistles. In fact, simplicity is best: taking a minimalist approach to presentation design will never be out of style. It helps keep things clear for your audience and lets your message do the talking.
#3 Trendy Colors
Color trends can be some of the easiest to spot, because they start popping up not only in the world of design, but in fashion, TV, and across social media. Right now, pastels seem to be having a moment—in particular muted pastels, leaning toward dusky pinks and soft, minty greens, as Pantone tipped in its report of must-have colors for fall 2020.
These pastel palettes are beginning to make their way into presentation designs, especially monochromatically. So, don’t shy away from picking your key color and mixing up your design with a range of hues—it’s an excellent way to create interest subtly and showcase a pared-back, sophisticated design touch.
This year, Pantone also treated the world to not one, but two colors of the year, Ultimate Gray and Illuminating. A union of color intended to convey strength and optimism, this theme seems well placed to influence presentation designs, too.
#4 Simple Data Visualization
Using data visualization is all about going back to basics, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: providing your data visually. This is especially handy for anything with breakdowns of revenue or figures, like an end of year report or a sales pitch. It requires a thorough understanding of what you’re presenting, identifying the most salient parts, and subsequently the best ways to present this information.
This can be done in a range of ways—for example, via maps, timelines, graphs, and charts. And when used cleverly, visualization can also be used to overlay different types of data.
Thanks to social media, audiences are also well used to seeing everything from news to services displayed as infographics, and these are becoming ever more snackable. Infographics are designed for cognition and can help you—and your audience—to see the shape and pattern of data at a glance. Happily, you can find PowerPoint templates, including ones specifically for infographics, which mean you can simply plug in some numbers and focus on the rest of the presentation. Also, there are some advanced data-visualization tools you can use for special business needs.
#5 Presentations That Speak For Themselves
Digital design has been heading this way for a while, and it continues: images are taking over text in terms of hierarchy. Accordingly, lots of designers are focusing on the visuals and dialling back the text that goes with them. Where in the past words may have been the dominant feature of presentations, it’s often now up to images to convey a whole message in one shot.
Or, more than one shot—when it comes to animation. Using animation can elevate your message, and engage (and perhaps surprise) your audience. This is especially important in making pitches that sell.
The real crux of it is this: while slideshows continue to evolve on social media, you need to be able to create presentations that stand alone. In other words, presentations that can grab and maintain the attention of your audience without text and speech, and sometimes without any sound at all.
#6 Flat Icons, Illustrations & Doodles
The DIY feel for design is one that never truly goes away. Aligned to this aesthetic, drawing and collage are back as far as presentation design trends. Illustration can be a great way to achieve a not-super-polished feel, which goes hand in hand with a sense of authenticity. However, don’t mistake this design trend as actually not being polished—a hand-drawn look takes planning and effective execution to work.
This trend can lend fun and quirk to your presentation, and even nostalgia. Handwritten text in particular seems to make comebacks in cycles. Think of the kind of doodles you used to draw in school or the Google doodles you might see every time you open your search engine. Flat icons can again lend a personal touch, making your work less obviously ‘designed’ and more approachable. Especially in presentation design, incorporating light-hearted visuals like illustration and doodles helps to add a human element.
So, there’s a lot to try in your next presentation design. In the case of creatively pitching or briefing audiences on your brand, or simply popping up in an Instagram feed, your presentations need to engage your audience and stand out against some of the best content out there. Especially if it’s the first time your audience is seeing your brand. Make it count!
Lachean is a writer, editor and Envato contributor based in London. With a background in content marketing, she has spent the last few years working in the world of business publishing, focusing on marketing, communications, and advertising.