Bad presentations. We’ve all sat through them right?

And truth be told, you may well have delivered one or two yourself.

In this age of visual communication, how can you capture and hold your audience’s attention?

Here are four ways to take your slide presentations from mediocre to great.

1. Design principles

Designing slides with visual appeal is an art. But certain design principles will help.

From the start, every slide should have a visual focal point. Something that immediately draws the eye at first glance. The focal point should be whatever is most important on that slide, be it an important number, a keyword, or simply the slide title.

Create visual focal points by varying the size, weight, and colour of each element on the slide. Larger, brighter, bolder elements will command attention, while smaller, lighter elements will tend to fade into the background.

High contrast colour schemes really stand out, but be careful not to overdo them, as they can quickly tire an audience.

Use big font sizes on each slide. The bigger the font, the easier it will be for your audience to read and retain.

Audiences are quick to pick out, and focus on, any inconsistencies in your presentation design. Use consistent fonts and colours throughout your presentation. Messy, inconsistent slide decks lead to distracted, disengaged audiences.

To keep your design on track, it can be helpful to create a colour palette and type hierarchy before you start creating your slide deck.

2. Be clear and concise

Make your main message stand out by keeping your presentation brief and straight to the point.

Identify one core message and eliminate any information that doesn’t immediately support it.

Try this: Design your presentation with all the content you want to cover, then cut it in half. This process will be painful, but it will almost certainly make what’s left afterwards more powerful and memorable.

Moreover, overloading your audience with a wall of words on screen is a sure way of losing them.

Get rid of detailed descriptions, background information, trivia, and material that is common knowledge. Limit the time spend on each slide by cutting the onscreen text to one sentence per slide. Use compelling images to make up the rest of the message.

Audiences are more engaged, ask more questions, and find talks more memorable when you include lots of visual examples in your slide decks. People process images in as little as 13 milliseconds, text takes considerably longer to process.

If anybody in the audience has a question or needs some clarification on the subject, a session can be created at the end of the presentation.

3. Set the room ambience

A superior presentation does more than deliver meaningful information to the listeners; it connects with their emotions. So, pay attention to the ambience in the room.

To illustrate the importance of room ambience, consider how you set the mood at home. For some relaxation in the evening, you likely dim the lights or use a lamp. A very bright room doesn’t help most people to relax and unwind. To host a party, however, you likely brighten the room with lights and decorations to increase its energy.

Similarly, to help your audience concentrate on your presentation, use colours like blue, orange, and green to help them concentrate. Avoid colours that are too dark, bright, or that lack sufficient contrast.

Check that the lighting is adequate above all of the seats, including those at the back.

4. Interact with the audience

Most audiences like to be involved rather than remain passive. This is achieved mostly by creating a better experience through.

Get your audiences involved with presentation by using humour, storytelling, or technology that will require a response. You can use social media, mobile apps, or your interactive website.

Conclusion

Audiences don’t want to watch presentations with slides decks jam-packed with text. By summarising your text and creating slides with a visual focus, you can give more exciting, memorable, impactful presentations.