Page Updated on February 5, 2023

When creating training course materials as a teacher or trainer, there is a good chance that a PPT PowerPoint presentation will be a part of the materials you need.

If you do want to use PowerPoint slides, there are several things you will want to consider when designing them, in order to make the presentation as effective as possible for everyone in the classroom or training room. So let’s take a look at some useful PowerPoint slide design tips for designing training materials.

Designing training materials on PowerPoint for teaching

1. Learn to Understand Color Schemes

When designing your first training program on PowerPoint, one of the most important things is to understand what color combinations work together.

Getting the right color combination for your slides is important for a variety of reasons. First of all, you want your presentation to be attractive but easy on the eyes.

Some color combinations (such as red writing on blue background or green writing on red background) strain the eyes of the viewer. Other combinations may be too dull and boring or too bright and distracting.

Color combos
Example from ColorSpace

Also, you may want to use your company’s colors on the slides or use colors to project a certain feeling or mindset (different colors can generate different emotional responses in the audience).

Now, even if you are completely new to trying to design training materials, you do not need to be a graphic designer to understand how colors work because there are FREE tools you can use!

To understand what colors work well together you can use one of these tools:

  • Canva color palette generator
  • Coolors is also a great option for color combos
  • My favorite though is ColorSpace. Just enter one color and click ‘generate’ and it will create a bespoke color combo for you. I chose a red color (#C25E83) and this is the color combo it gave me:

2. Design the Slides to be Suitable for those with Disabilities

You should also seek to make the PowerPoint slides you use for providing training as suitable as possible for those with disabilities.

There are several things you can do in the design, to make the slides easier such as for those with eyesight problems, with special needs, or those with other disabilities.

i) Use the ‘Ease of Access’ Tool in PowerPoint

On the employee training PowerPoint packs that we design, we always use the ‘Ease of Access’ tool to check the suggestions that PowerPoint makes for each template and slide we create.

This is a tool that is a part of PowerPoint and that I recommend you use.

Ease of access tool
Using the Ease of Access Tool

To go to the ‘Ease of Access’ tool just go to Review (on the top menu) –> ‘Check Accessibility’ –> ‘Options: Ease of Access’.

The ‘Ease of Access’ tool when selected will give you suggestions and recommendations on things you need to change to make the slides more accessible for all.

ii) Standard Design Considerations

Also, consider doing the following:

  • Use a minimum font size of 28 for any text on the slides. This will help the visually impaired (but it is also good practice to make slides easier to read from a distance for anybody).
  • Consider using Sans Serif fonts. Sans Serif is a font without the little extra decorative stroke at the end of each part of a letter. This font type is considered to be quite a crisp and clean design and thus it is deemed easier to read, particularly for people with dyslexia.
  • Avoid underlined text and italics as these can cause difficulties for people with dyslexia or visual impairments. Use bold for emphasis instead.
  • Try also to make the ppt slides uncluttered (I’ll discuss this more in the point below)
  • Make sure that the color of any text on your slides contrasts clearly with the background i.e. it is easy to read.

3. Declutter and Make Use of White Space

As you design each slide, make sure to consider the following:

PowerPoint slide example for designing teaching materials
>> Example from the Body Language teaching materials
  • Use high-quality images and graphics to ensure that you maximize the visual impact of the slide and to give the slide a colorful and clean look.
  • The image itself should add to the narrative, meaning that the image should help to tell the story being told.
  • Avoid adding too much writing on the slides. PPT slides should communicate information visually, i.e. you should rely mostly on images and graphics and limit the amount of text you use, so that the slides do not look cluttered (see point below). If you want your audience to read further information, provide them with handouts.
  • The slides should not look cluttered. One way to avoid clutter is to have plenty of white space on the slide and to put text into bullet points when you have a few key points to make on one slide.

As you can see from the slide example above, the notes use bullet points to make each point clearly separate.

There is also a lot of white space and a clear image is used.

4. Ensure You Use the Teaching Notes Section Pane

Even if you are designing the PowerPoint ppt slides for your own use, by the time you come to teaching and using the slides, it is easy to forget all of the key points that you want to raise.

The text and information on the slide itself should of course provide the main prompts to help you teach but the teaching notes pane can be extremely helpful to use.

Using the PowerPoint teaching notes pane
>> Example from the Body Language Training PPTs

You can add notes below the slide and these notes will only be visible to you, the teacher or trainer, as you teach.

5. Understanding the Value of Your Own Time

It is also worth mentioning at this point that designing teaching materials on PowerPoint can take days and often weeks (if you are designing a half or full-day course).

Do you have the time to spend a few weeks designing the PowerPoint slides for the teaching materials? Or would you prefer to spend your time doing other things?

You can save days if not weeks of your time.

One of the easiest ways is to buy ready-made training materials that you can download instantly, edit, and customize, and that are very affordable.

6. Use the Design Ideas Tool in PowerPoint

If you are using one of the recent versions of PowerPoint, I highly recommend making use of the ‘Design Tips’ tool in PowerPoint.

In PowerPoint, you can find the ‘Design Ideas’ option by simply selecting ‘Design’ on the top PowerPoint menu, and then you will see the ‘Design Ideas’ box on the far right of the page.

Design Ideas tool in PowerPoint
Design Ideas Tool example from our materials.

Simply click the design ideas box and PowerPoint will offer you several options for different ways to design the slide you are working on.

If you like one of the design idea suggestions then just click that design option you see and your slide will update to be the design you just chose.

It is incredibly easy and a great tool.

7. Avoid Overuse of Flash and Animations

You WILL want to use animations in order to show different stages of a process or, for example, to reveal one bullet point at a time.

Apart from the above scenarios for using animations, try to severely limit the use of flash and animations that add nothing to the design of the PowerPoint slides.

It is too easy to get excited and to get carried away when first designing training materials and lesson plans on PowerPoint.

The key is to keep things simple but with a nice design such as with clear images, plenty of white space, and text that is to the point.

Classroom lesson plans

8. How to Edit Images on Powerpoint Presentations

PowerPoint is a dynamic package that is easy to use but sometimes you need to know where to find things.

Sometimes when trying to change an image, it is not always easy to know how to do it so here are a few options for changing images.

a. Changing Images with a Right Click

In many instances, you can right-click the mouse over the image and then select:

  • Change Picture
  • This Device

and then you select the image you wish to use from your computer.

Changing an image in PowerPoint

Most of the time this is all you need to do and it is very straightforward.

b. Changing Images Via the Selection Pane

If you right-click over the image and there is NO ‘Chang Picture’ option, do not worry.

This likely means that the slide uses the PowerPoint designer suggestions tab (don’t worry if you do not know what this is) and in this case, there is a different way to change the image.

So in this case, what you need to do to change the image, is the following:

  • Click the ‘Home‘ tab on the top menu of PowerPoint at the very top of the page (where you see Home, Insert, Design…etc)
  • Then choose ‘Select‘ and then ‘Selection Pane‘ as shown in the image below.
  • Then select the item from the list that you see (see image below). You will know when you have selected the photo you want to change because it will be highlighted.
  • As, in this case, the image is inside a shape, in order to change the image you will need to click on ‘Shape fill’ (this can be found in the ‘Home’ tab or in the ‘Shape Format’ tab), then choose the ‘picture’ option, and then select the picture you want.
  • Note that you might have to make the image the same size as the one you are replacing.
Change a PPT image when its designed in design suggestions
Change a PPT image when it’s designed using design suggestions – From Imposter Syndrome materials
Dr Valeria (Lo Iacono) Symonds