[Venngage] 5 Foolproof Presentation Layout Ideas

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On this subject here is an article about presentation layout: You’ve got that big meeting coming up tomorrow, but all you have are some really terrible looking reference slides and an empty page on PowerPoint with “Click to Add Title” staring you in the face.

presentation layout ideas

There have been numerous articles published online about how you can start upping your presentation design game. Most of them offer you some presentation ideas, but when you’re rushing to put something together quickly, can you really afford to spend time fiddling with presentation software?

At my company HighSpark, we develop presentations on a daily basis and we’ve found a way to significantly reduce the guesswork required to put together solid presentations.

One of the ways is by reusing proven presentation layouts that work.

Here are five presentation layout tricks that we’ve used time and time again to build awesome presentation slides in record time.

1. The rule of three

The “rule of three” has been widely used in many mediums of communication to increase memorability and engage audiences. Similarly, if you want to take advantage of the rule of three, splitting the slide into three equally sized sections is an easy way to build layouts for a variety of purposes:

Team slides

Since team slides generally showcase professional experiences of founders or teams. Splitting your slide into thirds will leave just enough space for a headshot, as well as bio information for each of the team members.

presentation layout ideas

This three-part layout is also commonly used for pitch deck designs, where startups showcase their core founding team and advisors.

presentation layout ideas


This layout is also used when showing the steps in a process or timeline:

presentation layout ideas


Big pointers

There will be instances where you have big distinctions as headlines that you’ll need to display on your presentation. These points are usually followed by additional evidence or information to support your stance.

For example, a “pointer” in this case could be: “China: The Next Big Economy”, followed by a statistic supporting that point.

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When showcasing a few different statistics, it can be challenging to decide on a layout that will make data more interesting. If you’re using charts or icons to represent your data visually, having the visuals up top, accompanied by text below, is an easy way to make data more interesting.

presentation layout ideas

So you get the gist. By using a simple three-part presentation layout, you’ll be able to organize content in a variety of ways, limited only by your imagination.

2. Left image, right text

As dictated by the Picture Superiority Effect, pictures are more likely to be remembered than words. Pictures command attention more quickly. If you use more visuals than text in your presentation, your audience will be six times more likely to recall what you were talking about.

presentation layout ideas

Having your pictures on the left side of your slide offers a comfortable eye-flow for your audience. Images have inherent meanings associated to them (if I asked you to think of a chicken, you’d probably think of a bird and not the letters “C-H-I-C-K-E-N”). Using larger images lets you reduce the amount of words on your slide, especially if you’re telling a story.

There is no hard and fast rule for how big the proportions need to be, but what I’ve found works really well is to:

  1. Make the words on your slide as concise as possible
  2. Size the text to a minimum 12-point font and above
  3. Take a look at how much space you have left for your image, then pick the most ideal image

Some of the best types of images to use for presentation design:

Images with faces

Using faces in your presentation helps to build trust with your audience. We’re “hardwired” to recognize human faces since birth, and that’s why they’re widely used in marketing content. For instance, having a “hero-character” helps viewers to imagine themselves in the character’s position.

For example, this character: “Neel” is used to demonstrate the need for a financial management platform.

presentation layout ideas

The startup using this presentation is creating financial solutions for a very specific group of people: middle-class Indians. Using this image of “Neel”, the audience can very quickly understand the segment the company is trying to serve.

Using faces also helps you frame text, especially if the person is “looking” in the right direction. Our eyes naturally gravitate towards where the human figure in the image is looking towards.

presentation layout ideas

Images with large whitespace

In the field of design, whitespace is used to reference how empty space is used for functional and aesthetic purposes. Certain images are more pleasing to the eye because of the space around them. It’s the reason why you find certain paragraphs of text on a website hard to read, because of the lack of space between the lines.

presentation layout ideas

Having more white space means that you’ll have more room to play around with text, icons and other information that you might need to include on the slide.

presentation layout ideas

Generally, if you pick an image with a lot of empty space, placing text at any of the intersecting “power points” that follow the Rule of Thirds will ensure an aesthetically pleasing slide overall.

One of the most famous examples of someone using white space with only text is Steve Jobs and his famous WWDC presentations.

presentation layout ideas

You’ll notice that there’s a lot space in the slide; this draws your attention to the headline and avoids inundating the audience with visuals.

Images with a clear focus

Using images that are too busy will hinder your viewers from honing in on the information or visuals that matter. Picking images that have blurred backgrounds or a sharp focus on a specific subject can help to reduce noise.

presentation layout ideas


Where to find high resolution images:

When looking for free stock images for presentations, I typically go back to the same few sites to find high-quality images that have the “CC0” license. Especially when I’m short on time. CC0 images allow you to use them for commercial purposes for free without attribution.

presentation layout ideas

I typically like to use Pexels and Pixabay because these two sites aggregate some of the top free stock images available on the web from other repositories like Unsplashand Gratisography.

You’d usually be able to find what you’re looking for with these two sites, but here are a few others you can try:


Free Photos Bank



3. Full bleed, whitespace

When you’re using evocative full bleed images to tell stories, as seen in presentations by orators like Elon Musk and TED speakers, you may want to include a few words to give the image context.

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Elon Musk used full bleed images of pollution and satellite images of the Earth during his PowerWall presentation. This helped to bring attention back to himself and also highlighted the very real problems that they seek to solve with their products.

This shot from a TED presentation also demonstrates how you can tell stories using images and a little bit of text for context.

presentation layout ideas


There are three simple ways to include words on full bleed images:

Split your slide into nine parts

Split your slide into nine equal parts. Place any elements of focus at any of the four points where the lines intersect. This is a photography technique that applies to presentations too.

presentation layout ideas


Frame text with a shape

If there isn’t enough contrast between the background and your text, consider using shapes to frame the text. This way, your audiences can still read the text and be able to see the image of interest as well.

presentation layout ideas


Use empty space

If your full bleed image has empty space, it’s the perfect area to place your text without too much guesswork.

presentation layout ideas

When picking font colours, a trick to pick something that’ll look good is:

  1. Having adequate contrast with the background
  2. Picking colours directly from the image itself!

For example, the picture you see below from Pexels is of a mountain with quite a bit of whitespace above the photograph.

presentation layout ideas

So, assuming we’re putting our text where the clouds are, we just have to pick a colorthat is darker than the background (in this case, the background is white).

Instead of just randomly selecting a color, we’ll select the turquoise color of the moss that is on the mountain in the picture, as well as the grey of the mountain itself.

presentation layout ideas

The result is that you’ll have a very consistent-looking slide with colors that work well together.


4. Horizontal split

By splitting your slide equally using horizontal bars, you can instantly see a usable layout for your information. It doesn’t take much guessing to know where you can place content in these cases. Just fit it to the grid you made.

This is similar to the three-part layout but allows for a different kind of representation of information.

Here are some examples of how a horizontal split can be used:

presentation layout ideas

This presentation layout works great when you have:

  1. An image representing each of your points
  2. A heading for each point, when there are no more than four points (otherwise there won’t be enough space on the slide)
  3. Body text that might be a little too dense to put into a vertical grid layout

For example, you could use this layout in a team slide within an investor pitch deck, where you simply have too much information about the founders to force into a tight space.

presentation layout ideas


A horizontal split layout can also be used as an alternative to bullet points when you are listing benefits of a product, or spelling out a timeline of execution:

presentation layout ideas


5. Centred callout

There will be instances where you need a big callout (a specific and short message). For example, it’s great to have big callouts for “thank you” slides when ending a presentation.

presentation layout ideas

A great way to do this is to either pick a background image with contrasting space or to add the color contrast on your own using gradients.

presentation layout ideas

When picking font colors for your callout, always ask yourself:

  • Will people be able to see it?
  • Is there adequate contrast?

Here’s how to pick fonts for your callouts:

Font type

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