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60 minutes to designing a better PowerPoint slide

10 ways to engage and persuade your audience

Topic: Business
Curtis Newbold

Are you optimizing your presentations with the most effective, organized, and visually powerful slide decks? Are you maximizing your potential to engage, motivate, and persuade your audiences? Kick up your presentation prowess by learning some of the most practical research-driven skills for slide deck design.

In this one-hour, fast-paced course, expert Curtis Newbold teaches you powerful design tactics that will keep your audiences engaged and focused while helping them remember the most important details of your message.

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

By the end of this live online course, you’ll understand:

  • How PowerPoint should be used to supplement and enhance content, not trying to be the content
  • How effective visual communication can improve engagement, recall, and even the actions of audiences
  • How appropriate and ethical use of images, icons, and graphics can enhance professionalism and maintain relevancy

And you’ll be able to:

  • Recognize common PowerPoint design mistakes
  • Design and format slides that maintain an organized, professional, and strategic visual structure
  • Integrate photographs, icons, and graphics that best enhance and relate to the content of a presentation

This training course is for you because...

  • You're a manager or executive who frequently gives presentations to motivate, inspire, or instruct employees.
  • You're a leader or facilitator who develops training courses and workshops to teach or guide colleagues or customers.
  • You represent a team, branch, or company where you frequently pitch products, services, and ideas to clients, investors, or top-level decision makers.
  • You've been asked to present at a conference, and you’re looking for new ways to bolster your professionalism and the impact you have on your audiences.


Recommended follow-up:

About your instructor

  • Curtis Newbold is an associate professor of communication at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, where he serves as the codirector of an online Master’s of Strategic Communication program; in this role, he’s led student groups on international strategic communication projects in Peru, South Africa, Cambodia, Morocco, Hungary, and Greece. He’s taught at the university level for 15-plus years. His portfolio of instruction includes over 30 different courses on topics such as integrated marketing communications, brand strategy, business and technical writing, public speaking, infographics in popular media, visual communication, web design and site development, publication design, and related topics. He’s also helped develop and deliver several workshops, webinars, and presentations for organizations around the world. Curtis is the owner and operator of the popular communications blog The Visual Communication Guy, and he frequently works as a consultant, graphic designer, and communications specialist for small businesses. Curtis holds a PhD in rhetorics, communication, and information design (RCID) from Clemson University.


The timeframes are only estimates and may vary according to how the class is progressing

Roadmap (5 minutes)

  • Lecture: Explanation of course and purpose; course roadmap; why PowerPoint?; PowerPoint stigmas demystified; PowerPoint isn’t the problem—the presenter is; why PowerPoint should be three primary things—audience-focused, visually superior, and organized and consistent
  • Group discussion: What negative things have you heard (or said) about PowerPoint? What are its stigmas? What types of presentations do you give in your profession? How do you use PowerPoint in those presentations?

Why visuals matter (5 minutes)

  • Lecture: Engagement; recall; storytelling; the picture superiority effect; professionalism
  • Poll: Do you feel confident designing visually rich information?
  • Group discussion: What do you feel less confident in? What makes designing effective PowerPoint slides hard?

PowerPoint faux pas (10 minutes)

  • Group discussion: What are your greatest PowerPoint pet peeves?
  • Lecture: 40 ways to screw up a PowerPoint slide; other PowerPoint mishaps
  • Q&A

Design overview: Structure, relevancy, and CRAP (20 minutes)

  • Lecture: The design trifecta—structure, relevancy, and CRAP; structure—beginning (title slide), middle (roadmap, sections, unique content, signposts), ending (the closing slide), footers and indicators; relevancy—audience needs, style (colors, typefaces, photography, cohesion), matching visuals to content (stories, numerical data, bullets), finding photos, finding icons; CRAP—contrast, repetition, alignment, proximity

Design specifics: Trips, tricks, and ideas (15 minutes)

  • Lecture: Bleeds and margins; cutting up photos; transparent overlays; creative cues (brackets, etc.); block quotes; highlighting data (emphasizing chart info); the rule of thirds

Wrap-up and Q&A (5 minutes)