In early 2020, the world as we knew it was turned upside down. Companies were forced to turn in the face of the pandemic, and as a result, many companies adopted a remote working culture.
Remote working changed the way organizations and teams work – and even the way companies communicated with prospects and acquired new business. Employees leaned on virtual designs, presentations, and events to communicate both internally and externally.
As a result, the graphic design landscape has changed dramatically over the past year.
Now presentations have to work harder than ever to connect, engage and inspire audiences to act. In fact, over 35 million PowerPoint presentations are given to over 500 million viewers every day – but 79% of those audiences believe that most of the presentations they see are boring.
To help you crush your next presentation deck, we’ve rounded up the top presentation design trends of 2021, forecast by creative industry experts and presentation power users.
Get to know the four biggest trends in presentation design that will emerge in 2021 from three creative experts from leading companies in the technology sector.
1. The design will show more empathy.
Marissa Latshaw, Founder of Latshaw Marketing, says, “Impactful, inspirational design starts with empathy.
Empathy is one of the most powerful tools in the creative toolbox. The good news is that empathy – the ability to feel, understand, and respond to the feelings of others – is inherent in all of us. Our job as creators is to use that empathy for better design, marketing, and storytelling.
Empathy promotes creativity. The connection between empathy and creativity is strong – as many studies over the last decade have shown. In one study, participants were asked to develop and name a potato chip product for pregnant women. Before starting the task, half of the participants were told to imagine how the consumer would feel while eating the snack. The other half were asked to imagine what the consumer would think. An independent jury found the product concepts of the first, emotionally oriented, empathy-activated group to be more original than those of the control group.
Empathy is also important for inclusivity. More than ever, we want to communicate with others in a way that is truly inclusive. A sensitive approach ensures we understand the goals, needs, fears, and values of all the people we want to include (beyond the way they relate to our brand or product). This is a call to all of us to be proactive about inclusivity, and it starts with empathy.
Empathy creates connection. From the home fitness giant Peloton to the new voice-based social network clubhouse, we’re constantly finding new and innovative ways to connect with each other.
Both brands show empathy when they address the noticeable and growing need for connection. You have re-imagined how we work and share conversations in a socially connected way.
Designing things – from a presentation to an advertising campaign – is no different. Each is an opportunity to redefine and innovate the way we engage with and connect with the world.
Empathy helps us stand out by standing in someone else’s shoes. Creating unique, empathetic experiences ultimately brings us closer together and inspires action. “
2. Designers will rely on radical simplicity.
Eliot Garcia Weisberg, Creative Director at Airbnb, talks to us about anything that is radically simple.
He says, “Despite its incredible ability to connect us, conference calls slow the audience’s energy and empathy. Attention – already a fleeting resource – is further divided between the screens, speakers, transparencies and sounds of the virtual landscape.
The feedback loop from audience to presenter is almost dead. The impact of environmental design is lost. In our new world, the value of a single pixel on the crowded screens of a distant audience is immense. And the screens themselves – their quality and colors – vary widely from member to member.
The key to designing for the “new normal” is radical simplicity. A designer has to reduce a slide to its core idea and then push to simplify it even further. You ask yourself, “Do I really have to show this?” Then challenge yourself every time the answer is yes.
The number of slides is drastically reduced. Unnecessary symbols are hidden. Bullets become a distant memory. Subtle textures are replaced by solid colors. We’re going to see a shift away from image masks and bold text over photos. Instead, we see full-screen photos or simple statements that clarify their point of view and bring home the core concepts.
We’ll be spending more time with the speaker – in full screen mode – than ever before. Your delivery from tone to diffraction becomes a design element. The samples replace the design reviews.
The end result will feel a lot more human. And if it succeeds, it’s radically easy. “
3. Great design will grab the viewer’s attention.
“For decades, the job of creative designers, writers, and videographers has been to grab attention. Eliminate noise. Deliver ads that get noticed. Using creativity as a hook,” said Adam Morgan, Adobe executive creative director, of keeping an audience’s attention .
He adds, “But in today’s ultra-connected digital world, that hammer-and-nail approach isn’t always the answer. People choose what they want. The trend I’m seeing today is to get the attention too.” Less pressure and more pull, we need to create experiences that offer real value to an individual – not just grab their attention with shock value or clickbait.
“We need to create communities where people want to use our branded experiences. We need to know these individuals and groups, know what they are about, and provide new information that is wrapped in an emotional blanket. We need to stand for things that they do estimate.”
Instead of selling hard, we need to share a story they believe in and be open and transparent about why it matters to them.
For creative teams, this means that you can’t just make it pretty or funny. You need to think deeply about what your brand means to customers and then create immersive experiences that connect. It’s no longer just about the creative craft of colors, fonts and symbols. It’s about stories and meaning and authenticity and purpose. Don’t just get attention with your work. Draw attention to yourself. So that you can build brands that will grow and last. “
4. Designers should use clean, minimalist fonts and calming colors.
Most recently, we used the know-how of Anuja Kanani, Creative Director of Beautiful.ai, to uncover another trend in presentation design for 2021.
Kanani says, “Choosing the best colors for a presentation and good presentation fonts are two of the most important elements of deck design. Every design decision – shapes, words, and images – affects how your audience perceives the presentation. Colors have the greatest impact.
Taking the place of bold, brighter primary colors, 2021 has guaranteed more relaxed, muted colors after the chaos of 2020. Low saturated and pastel colors look not only more calming, but also more organic and natural, so that the audience may feel better about the lightness and confidence in the presentation in front of them.
Strategically using a consistent, free color theme can help position your brand in the minds of your customers, “adds Kanani. She recommends limiting your presentation to 3-4 colors in your palette, with an accent color to highlight key points and balance to achieve harmony to your presentation.
The trend towards minimalism also extends to good presentation fonts. Experienced moderators opt for clean minimal fonts like Open Sans or Jost and reject traditional fonts like Arial or Times New Roman in 2021.
Kanani adds, “Custom typography improves your brand awareness, while choosing different weights or styles can help steer the narrative on each slide.”
You have probably noticed that overly complicated slides are a thing of the past. Studies show that 35% of Millennials say they only engage in content that they think has a great story or topic. To avoid them turning into a nap, use visuals to guide your narration.
Presentation graphics, or large graphics, can help you paint a picture in bite-sized blocks so your audience can process the information you are presenting to them.
Kanani says, “Engaging, inspiring graphics in presentations make your content compelling, eye-catching, and help convey your story beautifully.”
Choosing large icons, charts, or infographics, and high-quality photos is a powerful tool that can help you make your presentation more memorable and impactful.
Ultimately, design is an art, not a science. Ideally, however, you can use these trends as inspiration for your own brand designs in 2021 and beyond.