Slide Design: Unleash the Power of Visuals for Engaging Learning Experiences

Hey there, new and aspiring instructional designers! Are you interested in taking your slide design to the next level?


In our latest episode of Accelerated instructional design, I’ll be talking about the profound impact a well-designed slide can have on the learning experience.



You probably encounter slide decks all the time (for better or worse). But did you know that slides possess the potential to captivate learners, promote interactivity, and create engaging learning experiences?


Let’s get into some best practices of slide design. I’m spilling all my valuable tips and guidelines to help you create visually appealing and effective slides. 


The Importance of Well-Designed Slides

Have you ever wondered why slide design matters in the realm of instructional design? While it may seem like a trivial aspect, its impact on the learning experience is immense. Slides can either enhance or disrupt the learning process. They possess the ability to capture learners’ attention, facilitate interactivity, and aid comprehension. 


As instructional designers, our goal is to create slides that support the learning experience, reinforce key messages, and make abstract concepts more concrete. To achieve this, we must explore the best practices of slide design and utilize them effectively. By doing so, we can harness the potential of well-designed slides to engage learners and foster effective learning outcomes.

Best Practices for Slide Design

Here are some key guidelines to optimize your slide design:


Clarity and Conciseness:

Ensure that your slide content is clear and concise to engage learners effectively. Avoid overwhelming them with excessive text or complex explanations. Instead, use bullet points, short phrases, and keywords to convey information succinctly. This promotes easy scanning and understanding.


Legible Fonts:

Legibility should be a top priority when choosing fonts for your slides. Opt for fonts that are easy to read, even from a distance. Avoid overly decorative or stylized fonts that may hinder comprehension. Remember, clarity is more important than aesthetics.



Consistent Design Elements:

Create a consistent visual experience throughout your slide deck. This includes using a cohesive color palette, maintaining consistent font styles, and ensuring visual elements align with the overall design. Consistency promotes a professional and organized look, enhancing the learning experience.


Visual Storytelling:

Engage learners through the power of visual storytelling. Incorporate relevant images, videos, graphs, and charts to support your content. Visuals can evoke emotions, simplify complex ideas, and enhance understanding. By telling a visual story, you make the learning experience more engaging and memorable.



Optimize legibility by ensuring adequate contrast between the background color and font color. High contrast makes the text stand out and improves readability, especially for learners with visual impairments. Test your slides in different lighting conditions to ensure optimal contrast across devices.


Relevant Images:

Select images and graphics that directly support your content. Relevant visuals not only add visual appeal but also reinforce key concepts. Avoid using images solely for decoration. Choose visuals that enhance understanding and create meaningful connections.


Mistakes to Avoid in Slide Design

To create effective slide designs, it’s essential to avoid common pitfalls that can hinder the learning experience. Here are some mistakes to steer clear of:


Overloading Slides:

Resist the temptation to include excessive information, graphics, or colors on a single slide. Overloaded slides can overwhelm and confuse learners, leading to cognitive overload.

Instead, strive for a balanced distribution of content, allowing learners to process and absorb information effectively. Use whitespace strategically to create a clean and organized look, allowing learners to focus on the key points.


Inconsistent Design:

Maintaining a cohesive design is crucial for a seamless learning experience. Inconsistent design elements can be distracting and disrupt the flow of information. Ensure that fonts, colors, and styles are consistent throughout your slides. This creates visual harmony and helps learners connect the dots between different concepts.


Poor Contrast:

Consider the readability of your slides by paying attention to contrast. Poor contrast between the background color and font color can make it difficult for learners to read the content. Choose colors with sufficient contrast to ensure that text is clear and legible. This is especially important for learners with visual impairments or reading difficulties.


Overuse of Animation and Graphics:

While animations and graphics can enhance engagement, using them judiciously is important. Excessive animations or flashy graphics can distract learners from the main message and overwhelm their cognitive load. Select animations and graphics that are purposeful and directly support the content. Use them to emphasize key points or demonstrate processes, but avoid overdoing it.


Using Text Instead of Visuals:

Visuals have the power to convey information more effectively than text alone. Opt for visual representations such as diagrams, charts, or infographics whenever possible. Visuals can simplify complex concepts, aid retention, and stimulate visual thinking. They are also more engaging and memorable for learners. Strive to strike a balance between text and visuals, allowing the visuals to enhance and complement the content.


Mastering the Art of Slide Design

Becoming proficient in slide design is an ongoing process that requires practice, experimentation, and continuous learning. Here are some additional tips to help you master the art of slide design


Understand Your Audience

Consider the characteristics and preferences of your target audience. What are their learning styles? What level of knowledge or expertise do they possess? Tailor your slide design to cater to their specific needs, ensuring that the visuals, content, and language resonate with them.


Engage in Visual Research

Stay up to date with current design trends, both within and outside the instructional design field. Explore various sources of inspiration such as design blogs, websites, and social media platforms. Pay attention to the visual elements that catch your eye and analyze how they can be adapted to enhance your slide design.


Seek Feedback

Feedback is invaluable in improving your slide design skills. Share your work with colleagues, mentors, or other instructional designers for constructive criticism. Embrace feedback as an opportunity to refine and enhance your designs. Consider joining professional communities or forums where you can collaborate and learn from others in the field.


Iterate and Refine

Slide design is an iterative process. Don’t be afraid to make changes and experiment with different layouts, colors, and visual elements. Continuously refine your designs based on feedback and your own observations. Over time, you will develop your own style and approach to slide design.


Embrace Technology

Stay updated with the latest tools and software that can support your slide design process. Explore design applications, graphic editing software, and presentation platforms to enhance your creative capabilities. Familiarize yourself with features that seamlessly integrate visuals, animations, and interactive elements.


Additional Considerations for Effective Slide Design

In addition to the best practices discussed earlier, there are a few more considerations to keep in mind when designing slides for optimal learning experiences:

  1. Font Size and Hierarchy: Pay attention to the size and hierarchy of your text on slides. Ensure that the font size is legible, even from a distance or when projected on a larger screen. Additionally, utilize font hierarchy to emphasize key points or headings. By varying font sizes, you can guide learners’ attention and make the content easier to navigate.
  2. Slide Layout and Alignment: Create a consistent and organized layout for your slides. Align text, images, and other visual elements properly to maintain visual coherence. Use grids or guidelines to ensure elements are properly spaced and aligned. This helps create a visually pleasing and professional presentation.
  3. Slide Navigation: Consider the flow and navigation of your slides, particularly if you are designing an interactive or self-paced learning experience. Include clear and intuitive navigation elements such as buttons, links, or interactive menus to allow learners to easily navigate between slides or sections. This promotes a seamless learning experience and enhances engagement.
  4. Slide Timing and Pacing: When designing slides for presentations or e-learning modules, be mindful of the timing and pacing. Allow sufficient time for learners to process the content on each slide before transitioning to the next. Avoid overwhelming learners with too much information or rushing through the material. Pace the delivery of information to ensure comprehension and retention.

By incorporating these additional considerations, you can further enhance the effectiveness of your slide designs and create engaging learning experiences.


Wrapping it Up

Mastering slide design is a continuous journey that combines creativity, technical skills, and a deep understanding of the learning experience. By incorporating the best practices discussed in this blog post, avoiding common pitfalls, and considering the additional considerations for effective slide design, you can create visually appealing, engaging, and impactful slides that enhance the learning process.


Remember to prioritize your designs’ clarity, consistency, relevance, and audience needs. Embrace feedback, continuous learning, and the ever-evolving technology landscape to take your slide design skills to the next level. By mastering the art of slide design and considering factors such as font size and hierarchy, slide layout and alignment, slide navigation, and slide timing and pacing, you can create immersive learning experiences that captivate learners.


Now, armed with the knowledge and tools to master slide design, go forth and unleash the power of visuals in your instructional design journey. I would love if you would share your favorite slide designs in The Hangout, a Facebook group for instructional designers of all levels. Happy designing!


Trainologist Hangout


The Testimonials are In:


Shola Richards

Working with Shanwtay and Katie at the Instructional Design Company was a dream come true. Their creativity, expertise, and professionalism throughout the entire process was beyond top notch. I engaged them to help turn my first book into a training course, and I could not be happier with how the final product turned out. If you have an instructional design project and you’re considering which company to work with, you can stop your search and thank me later. They are truly the best in the business.

Shola Richards


Graphic Designer

I joined the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program because I struggled to find jobs in instructional design beyond the development phase. I’ve done a couple of training programs with lots of random projects, but I was overwhelmed, not connecting the dots, and not good at structuring my writing to hit learning objectives. I was looking for motivation and direction at beginning a better Instructional Designer.

After taking the Instructional Design & Tech Certificate program and joining my fantastic team for support, I found the structure and approach to be what I need to take my next steps, evening improving my skills in the development stage.

Gayle Bower


Teacher, Future Instructional Designer

I love how this course let’s you work at your own pace. I got great tips and learned many things. The ongoing support for multiple people and groups is what I love the best. You are never alone in this process. I have been able to adjust my resume and began creating a portfolio of work I’ve completed to add when applying for jobs. I use many of the PowerPoint skills in my lessons and trainings. I would highly recommend this for anyone wanting to become an instructional designer.

Laurie Henderson


Teacher, Future Instructional Designer

I have searched for the last few years to find some suitable career change where I wouldn’t have to earn another degree and where I could use the talents and skills I already have as a teacher. When I came across the Instructional Design Accelerator course, I loved the fact that Shawntay was a former teacher and could relate to a teacher’s need to transition from the classroom. This was what sold the course for me. Her experiences are invaluable especially when translating teacher duties to instructional designer duties. I would (and have) recommended this program to other teachers I know who are looking to transition out of the classroom. I do appreciate ALL of her feedback on my projects!

Wendy McMillian


L&D Project Manager

The Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator certificate program is one of the most comprehensive ID programs out there for beginners. If you’re looking to grow your schools in ID and development then I highly recommend this program. Not only will this program give you an overview of theory, but you will receive a thorough walkthrough of how to apply what you have learned. Although I had already secured a position in Learning & Development when I bought this course, it helped me to move up into a new position as a Learning & Development Project Manager!

Gabby Grimaldo


Future Instructional Designer

If you have any interest in ID, sign up for this program NOW! Shawntay and her team are top notch! The course content exceeded my expectations in a big way and the encouragement and support continues to be so valuable. You will not feel alone going through this course, you will learn so much, you’ll have many cheerleaders, and you will have fun!

Shanna Howe


Future Instructional Designer

I am really enjoying this program! It’s prerfect for someone who is thinking about a career shift to Instructional Design and does not have a lot of experience. This is my first real introduction to Instructional Design and it’s been the perfect beginner course to help me get my feet wet. The modules are broken down well and it’s great to go at your own pace and at your own time. The modules themselves are very comprehensive and you learn a lot from all of them. I really like how each one build upon each other and you’re working towards the bigger project of designing your first training course from scratch. I’m learning so much from going through this course! I was provided great feedback from Katie and Shawntay through the process via Trello Boards, comments on the Google documents, and Facebook group. This course has been well worth the time and effort and I appreciate the fact that I will always have the resources available to me after I complete the training (just in case I’m not quite ready to transition yet).

Aviva Berkowitz


Future Instructional Designer

I can’t say enough great things about the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program! The length of the program is perfect; it doesn’t feel rushed and there’s just the right amount of structure to give you the accountability you need. There are so many opportunities to get live answers to any questions you have related to the course content or anything ID-related! This program gave me the support and structure I needed to both feel affirmed in the relevant skills I already had coming in and to fill in the gaps I had as a career-changer going into ID. Shawntay, Katie, and all the coaches are super helpful and supportive. I now feel confident that I have the tools and access to resources I need to apply for ID jobs without wondering if there’s something I’m “missing” in the preparation process. I’d highly recommend this program to anyone wanting to transition into ID or who just wants to brush up on their skills in the field.

Krista Johnson Awomoyi


Freelance Instructional Designer

I’d highly recommend the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program. I’m blown away by how much I learned in just 12 weeks. I had ID experience prior to taking this course and was just looking to get a better understanding of applying adult learning principles. This course well exceeded my expectations! Not only did I gain a clear understanding of adult learning principles, I was also able to apply those principles by creating assets for your portfolio using PowerPoint, Adobe Premiere Pro and Storyline. The hands on support that we received was top notch.

Darlene Dalgleish


Instructional Designer

This program is one of the most robust yet fulfilling L&D programs I’ve seen. I learned so much about the industry and about the limitlessness of my own capabilities. I am so appreciative of Shawntay and all of the trainers who took part in the program. They went above and beyond with not only guiding, but communicating live and working one on one or in small groups. If you are on the fence, I say take the leap and you will not regret it! There’s so much to learn, not only from the trainers, but also the learners in your group. Everyone comes in with their own skills and can be additional support and guidance for you. Thank you for creating this program!

Shawnice Edge


Instructional Designer Training Facilitator

Shawntay is an amazing individual. She is very knowledgeable in all aspects of ID and eLearning. She is also very compassionate and loves to help and see everyone around her grow and prosper. Shawntay has been a great mentor to me and she has helped me mature as an instructional designer and eLearning developer. She has provided me with opportunities when others have overlooked me. I am very grateful to have met and built a lifelong relationship with Shawntay.

I recently got hired into my first instructional design / training position and Shawntay was one of the first people to congratulate me!

Brian Hightower


Freelance Instructional Designer

My teacher-to-instructional-designer journey began two years ago when I left my teaching comfort zone and started my first freelance ID job. Now, I’m stepping out of the classroom and taking my freelance work full-time, so I’m thrilled to be joining the Tech Accelerator program. Adding technologies like Articulate 360 and Adobe Premiere Pro to my qualifications will help me take my courses to the next level and attract more clients!

Sarah Smith


Teacher Transitioning into Instructional Design

I am genuinely grateful for this course. I wanted a real-world perspective and feel like I got it. I’m teaching now, but nearing retirement age but can see myself working as an instructional designer well into my retirement years. My other goal is to take as many courses in statistics as possible in hopes of bringing some mathematical precision to the ROI question. Like you say, getting accurate metrics to measure ROI can be a challenge, but I intend to work on that part. That’s unimportant right now, what is important is the fact that I feel like this course was well worth every penny I spent and I would to it again in a heartbeat. I have too much going on right now, but as soon as I get some time freed up I intend to take your course in project management.

Lee R


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Shawntay has been incredible!

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Working with Shawntay and the Instructional Design Company has allowed our university to meet the growing demands of our programs. Shawntay’s expertise allowed for the course development to be completed on time and met all of the university requirements. Shawntay’s project management skills were phenomenal and allowed my team to work on other areas while she completed this project for us. Her work is of high quality and her professionalism and willingness to help made her a tremendous asset to the project team.

Amanda Buckley
Academic Quality Assurance Specialist, Abilene Christian University


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Shawntay is a creative and highly talented instructional designer.  She brought a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and leadership that enabled her to own the design and creation of a full scale facilitator curriculum and train-the-trainer program.  It was a pleasure to partner with Shawntay, her project management and communication skills ensured the project was on time and on budget.

Susan Gatti
President, IMMIXID


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Rick Miller
Author, Speaker, Strengths Coach


eLearning Development

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Ashley Christian
Director of Learning Strategy, Caveo Learning


Top Notch Professional

Working with Shawntay has been an immense pleasure. She is atop notch professional who brings enthusiasm and extensiveexpertise to professional curriculum development and execution. Her knowledge of tried and true techniques to maximize the effectiveness of presentations is invaluable.

Nancy Drapeau, PRC
Vice President of Research, CEIR - Center for Exhibition Industry Research


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Jonathan Burt
Director of Qualifications and NSD Services, Mary Kay Inc.


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Dave Beeman, CPP
Vice President, Andy Frain Services


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“Working with Shawntay you will immediately notice her professional presence and poise, but over time her tenacious pursuit of excellence and her skills in instructional development and adult learning will really impress you. I worked with her at Mary Kay, and was able to experience firsthand her great rapport with regional partners in Europe, understanding their unique sales force training needs. In addition, Shawntay consistently exhibited grace under pressure, made executive decisions to move business forward. If you are looking for an expert who consistently delivers and goes the extra mile to get things done, contact Shawntay!”

Mellora Moore
Marketing Director, Academic Partnerships


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Judy Owen, CPC
Transformational Leadership Coach


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Get yourself signed up for Shawntay Skjoldager’s Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program today and be on your way to success! Within the first week of taking her course, you will experience growth! Be sure to plug into her Facebook Q&A sessions for personalized help, too. This is THE course to take if you are new to instructional design or have landed on the training team and need help getting started.

Patrick Hodges
Managing Partner, PHiG


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Shawntay has exceptional knowledge and experience with all aspects of creating and implementing effective, performance based training for adults. She is exceptional at needs analysis – identifying target audiences and collaborating with business owners to keep training focused on business needs. And she is great to work with – always providing great support to get projects done on-time and on-target. She is always on the look-out for new and more effective ways to engage learners. Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!

Mike Stubblefield
eLearning Developer/Instructional Designer, Vivos Therapeutics


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I have known and worked with Shawntay  as a education program director and use the expertise of ShawntayMichelle for the development of my presentations.  The service has always been “spot on” with professionalism, care and attention.  Shawntay’s recommendations to my ideas make me look good to my clients.

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I am new to the training design and development world and I was SO excited to get in there, but I really lacked the real-world knowledge that would set me apart from my peers. And, then Shawntay Skjoldager walked into my life with an outstretched hand and a seemingly endless list of ways to knock every training out of the park. From the Training Analysis Form to the Tay Tay tips, this course made my life so much easier and even ironed out the review process that I had been struggling with for months.

Take time to invest in your own learning and make sure to put Shawntay Michelle at the top of your personal development list!


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Training Specialist, LegalShield

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