Usually, I still fail to do this 100%: setting the personality of a presentation and using it consistently throughout the slides. What contributes to a presentation personality:
  • The basics: colors and fonts
  • Slide design approach: huge images/few words, "Economist-style" data diagrams (headline message supported by a graph), bullets (uh oh), cartoon-style, etc.
  • Type of images: color or B&W, "tacky" stock images or real pictures, people or landscapes/buildings or isolated objects, funny or serious, vintage or recent, images-only or illustration-only, etc.
One example of a consistent personality is a teenage bedroom: decoration, posters, are all in a consistent style. And the style fits the personality of the owner as well.
Let's think of a few possible presentation personalities:
  • Vintage 1950s images (family scenes, food advertising, first electrical appliances)
  • College humor (brutal, in-your-face, "funny" stock images isolated on white)
  • Zen (few colors, calm images, Helvetica light font)
  • Feminine (paintings, elegant images, some frivolous elements)
  • Economist (clean/neat data charts, one after another)
  • Cartoon (hand drawings, cartoon-type fonts, including very fat ones ["BANG"])
  • Napkin-style (simplistic drawings, hand-written/white-board style comments on printed text)
  • Macho (black background, performance cars)
  • Big words on a white background
  • Big words on a colorful background (Tom Peters)
  • Anti-design presentation (see Dave McClure's work, I am only discussing his presentation personality, not his real one...)
The list can go on forever. Think about personality when designing your next presentation, taking into account your own personality, the topic at hand, your audience's personality, your mood. And try to stick to it.
Related reading a post by Olivia Mitchell on The top 7 PowerPoint slide designs.