COMMUNICATION

Five basic principles for better presentation slides

Make presentations more professional

Shawn Seah
5 min readOct 30, 2022

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Someone once asked me a funny question during a presentation. Photograph taken by my team in 2019.

Once, I had a memorable Big Boss, whose career straddled both the public and private sectors. He gave me a lot of good guidance and advice. But one piece of advice on developing presentation slides stood out for me.

For example, back then, it was common to have three different sections (of one deck of slides) cobbled up separately by three different teams.

One of the teams would be the lead that consolidated the work and eventually tabled the slides for clearance. And what the lead would do is to put dividers to indicate three sections, and slot the slides in.

Big Boss used to gently, but firmly, insist on decks of slides having the same overall look and feel, appearing consistent and coherent such that they looked like they were done by one person — even if there were different contributors to different sections.

Big Boss expected the lead officer, who consolidated the slides, and his immediate Boss — usually a Senior Assistant Director — to read through everything, format everything consistently, and ensure that the deck flowed as a complete, coherent piece of work, before we sent it to him for clearance.

I am grateful that Big Boss taught us about attention to detail.

Over the years, and probably because presentation slides are a “necessary evil” that cannot be avoided, I gained some experience and learnt some other lessons along the way.

I wrote down these broad lessons so that I can remind myself of them.

But I hope they can also be useful principles to you when you are preparing for presentations.

First, aim for consistency and coherence in look and feel

Inconsistent styles can be visually jarring. Avoid — unless deliberately aiming for some creative effect — crazy, clashing, or contrasting colours; different font types and sizes; and different formatting.

Use a consistent colour scheme and style throughout, including the same fonts (or family of fonts) and structure.

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Shawn Seah

Singaporean writer and public speaker, passionate about education, social issues, and local history and community stories.