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5 Ways to Use Icons in Your PowerPoint Presentation


Creating an effective PowerPoint presentation is =, or can be, one of the most creative and inspiring things you can do to get your message across and motivate people to your cause or idea. It has become a ubiquitous part of almost any role, from management to starting positions, everyone will have to make a presentation at some point. The value and eventual success of a presentation are based on a variety of complex factors such as the design, organization, the audience, and of course, the delivery of the presentation. However, among all the things you can’t control, making a presentation with high-quality elements can make the difference between a sleep-inducing talk and a compelling conversation.

5 Ways to Use Icons in Your PowerPoint Presentation

What Makes a Good Presentation?

Good presentations include many things that tingle the senses, grab the listeners’ attention and deliver a memorable message. It could contain video and audio that present a story or message and also contain data necessary to expound your point. A presentation that is both visually and audibly appealing will take you far with your audience.

It is important to keep in mind that an effective PowerPoint presentation serves as a backdrop for the speaker and shouldn’t be viewed as the lead point of focus. This is where icons come in. As mentioned above, the way a presentation is designed (aka how it looks) is imperative to its success. In this context, a polished message should be combined with a clean, professional, and aesthetically pleasing set of visual aids such as icons. Here are five ways to use them in your presentation.

Convey a Clear Message

An icon is a simple picture or graphic that represents something complex but is delivered in a way that conveys a point in a single image. Implementing PowerPoint icons is an effective way to visually stimulate your audience, and also may provide information that is is too detailed to fully state in words. Icons provide for a cleaner, minimalistic presentation that is easy to understand and remember.

Experts state the objective of an icon is to help people understand and remember your message because it cues the audience to images and information that they are already familiar with. A well-designed PowerPoint icon adds to your message by pointing out key elements so you can eliminate wordiness or redundancy while helping your speaking flow. Sometimes, they can be used for humor too.

However, exercise caution when using icons at first. The greatest danger in using icons is that they can be used inappropriately, such as when you use the wrong type of icon or use too many of them in one place. Misuse of icons may lead your audience to become desensitized, making it difficult to use them for the intended effect.

Perhaps the following image can demonstrate. Think of icons as the decorations or frosting on a cake. The cake is the substance of the presentation, and too many decorations ruin the substance.

Grab Attention

Icons direct your audience’s attention to your content and, more importantly, specific elements in your message, and they should be chosen on that basis. Icons that don’t help clarify the message, or that obscure what is being said shouldn’t be avoided.

Communicate Universally

When using icons, ask yourself: who is my audience? Is the group homogeneous? Are there experts or novices in their fields? Both? Icons are, or should be, universal so they also translate ideas well in groups where there are various demographics. After all, everyone knows an octagon red sign with white trim means stop, right? People are well aware that yellow indicates caution. These common ideas explain why icons work so well in both large and small groups, to draw in something familiar and link it to the new information you are presenting.

Another benefit of icons is they create a visual idea but in a lot less time than creating an entire slide or complicated graphic. You can grab the attention of your audience with a well-placed, well-designed icon where you are directing the flow of information in a way that matches what you are saying.

Show Creativity

Icons showcase creativity. Everyone likes businesses that spark our inner interests and show a creative side. Creativity is often equated with fresh, new ideas. Even when that may not be the case, inserting icons into your presentation will show your audience that you are thinking outside the box and are willing to make an effort to help them understand what you are saying–and maybe a good way to highlight your personality a little too.
Those who want more creative or substantial icons, there are templates and software that offer lots of choices. Most are compatible with PowerPoint or can be inserted with an add-in.

Learning to Use Icons

There are several simple icons you can easily create in PowerPoint in under 10 seconds. The home icon is under the block arrows menu and you can just fill the shape and remove the outline. The tag icon is under the block arrows menu. For that use the “pentagon” tool and fill the shape. Then, remove the outline.

Finally, the envelope icon is under the rectangles menu. Create the base, fill the shape, and remove the outline.

Inserting icons into your presentation isn’t challenging once you understand the steps. There are many free webinars and instructional videos that help with this.

Some key points to remember as you build and insert your icons is to pay attention to small details, like alignment and spelling.

Watching a free tutorial may also give you some tips that will save you time and headaches as you build and insert icons into your presentation.

Using icons in your presentation may appear awkward at first because you are used to text, charts, and graphs, and all those slides! However, you will find that a simple icon will convey a message that all those other things can’t. It is a simple, easy-to-use tool that you should keep handy whether you have a quick presentation or an extensive seminar.


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