Graphic design is not decoration. If you think about it in the same way you think about your tone of voice, body language and attire, you will understand why it is something to take seriously. Doing so will help you communicate more effectively because the design of your slides won’t be in opposition to the design of YOU. Why do you spend time “designing” your appearance and crafting your gestures only to show slides that are essentially wearing pajamas? Instead, consider dressing your slides in whatever the appropriate attire (design) is for your situation.
Another analogy that might help: Think about design as the capsule that carries your medicine. You should ask yourself: what is the most tempting, delicious capsule I can put my medicine (message) into? What will my audience swallow simply because they want to? I know that sounds diabolical, but why do you want anything to stand in the way of you delivering your message? If the message itself is bitter, your audience will likely not swallow it anyway, so don’t worry about delivering it in a form that facilitates its conveyance. Using design like this, in a strategic, thought-out manner, can drastically help in your overall appeal to your audience.
Another barrier often encountered when working with a client who is unsure about design is that they think design is too subjective. Why should they spend their money on something that is based on the aesthetic whims of a designer? Well, honestly it isn’t. Graphic design, especially in the corporate world, is very trend-based. A professional designer aware of these trends can offer design that adheres to them or breaks them with good reason.
For instance, minimalism has been trending for decades now and has gained even more momentum in our information-overloaded society. Stripping away anything superfluous is on-trend. Most corporate design material should start from minimalism as a base. A designer who is going to embellish any piece of communication with decorative styling must have a very good reason to do so and be able to articulate these reasons to their client. I’m not saying that decoration has no place in design. To the contrary, I would argue that it can be used to great effect in the right circumstances. However, within the current trend of minimalism it would communicate the wrong thing and detract from a client’s message if used in the wrong setting.
All of that is just to say, design is not as subjective as many people think and it should not be mistaken as mere decoration. Use it like you use your overall appearance, gestures, intonations, etc. Together they can help greatly in delivering your presentation.
Ask questions. Get a quote. You know what to do.