Here is the secret to coming up with a pretty good slide layout for any situation:

  1. Give up on your ambition to make a highly sophisticated composition, instead treat every slide, every slide as a basic 2 dimensional grid.
  2. Identify what the one, (yes one), idea is that your slide should communicate and figure out what the "visual verb" of the point is: I am listing things, comparing things, showing a trend, showcasing things, showing a transition, mapping a process.
  3. Count your grid elements: I have 3 things to list (3x1), want to show 5 team members with a photo and a name (5x2), need to forecast across 10 years (10x1), compare 3 options across 5 dimensions (3x5)
  4. Decide the emphasis of each grid cell: a text/title box, smaller text, an image, a data column, a data bar, etc.
  5. Lay out your grid and rewrite, cut, polish your text until everything fits in nicely. If there are issues with fitting text in cells, go back to counting grid elements (maybe you can combine/split things), or reconsider the emphasis you have chosen.

My presentation app SlideMagic makes the above steps incredibly easy. The slide layouts that are suggested to you when you want to insert a slide probably cover 90% of concepts you will ever need. 

Art: Mondriaan, Broadway Boogie Woogie

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