Avoiding "Death by PowerPoint" with Free-Form Slide Designs

Anyone who has suffered through a barrage of bullet points in a tedious presentation is likely to welcome the more creative style of slide design advocated by presentation specialists such as Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds.

Structured versus Free-Form

The PowerPoint slides you can download from the link above show the difference between conventional, bullet point-intensive designs (which we refer to as structured slides) and the new, more visually oriented designs (which we refer to in our texts as free-form slides).

The two structured slides (Slides 1 and 2)  follow the same format throughout the presentation. In fact, they’re based directly on the templates built into PowerPoint, which tend to feature lots and lots of bullet points.

In contrast, the two free-form slides (Slides 3 and 4) don’t follow a rigid structure. Of course, free-form designs should not change randomly from one slide to the next. They should still be unified by design elements such as color and font selections.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Structured Slides

Although some commentators would like to banish structured slides to permanent oblivion in favor of free-form designs, both design strategies have advantages and disadvantages that need to be considered for each presentation opportunity.

Structured slides have the significant advantage of being easy to create; you simply choose an overall design scheme for the presentation, select a template for a new slide, and start typing. If you’re in a schedule crunch, going the structured route might save the day because at least you’ll have something ready to show.