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Get your audience’s full attention with a stunning Keynote presentation

two men working on a presentation

Steve Jobs was famous for his keynote presentations(opens in a new tab or window). It was something he took pride in and used it as a sharpened tool in his armory to democratize computing.

If you've ever had to deliver a keynote, or are in the process of preparing one, this article is for you as we showcase 15 of the best keynote presentations—and some of Canva's own templates as well.

01. Use a consistent set of icons

While this presentation has different designs per slide, it looks cohesive because of the use of the same set of icons and fonts.

Take a closer look and you’ll realize it only took one set of icons and one font to create the sleek Startup Weekend presentation above. That’s one way to create clean, modern-looking slides—pick a set of icons wide-ranging enough to cover the needs of your presentation and pair it with a font that complements its look. And take note of how everything is bound in crisp outlines and borders—it keeps the look clean.

The slides also look young and 'cool' because of the colors used: three shades of blue evened out by gray and white. The shrewd drops of red balance the darkest tone and draw the eyes to relevant graphics.

02. Design with a bold type set in a distinct color

Presentation designed by Jon Brousseau

Sometimes you don’t even need icons or illustrative elements to make your presentation look like it was designed by a professional. All the presentation above needed was an enlarged, bold font, set right at the center. It also uses a distinct shade of green to balance its black background and to add interest.

03. Add whimsical line art

Presentation with illustration designed by Gregor Martynus

Illustrations—particulary whimsical ones—in your presentation incorporates a sense of creativity. Not only does it allude to the creative process itself, it also gives the presentation a fun sense of informality. Looking to inject a business casual feel to your slides? Try this technique.

04. Don’t be afraid to use a vast color palette

Bold colors define this presentation designed by Kevin Barber

There’s a technique to using a wide palette and it’s perfectly exemplified in this presentation. First, choose analogous colors. There are two main sets in action here: blue, blue-green, light-green; red-orange, light orange, yellow-orange.

Second, spread out the colors throughout your presentation. As much as possible try not to force all the colors into one page—the title slide is an exception here because it was used to tie the whole presentation’s look together. Just to be on the safe side keep it to one to three.

05. Paint it red

An eye catching red presentation design by Thanos Papavasileiou

If you’re presenting about a topic like love, passion, or power—themes you can associate with the color red—why not use that color to convey your message? Just remember to offset it with a neutralizing color such as white or black.

06. Use photos as your background

This design not only uses images a background, it also makes use of bright colors. Designed by Amy Lamp

Photos can be used as the background for your presentation—but only if you add a filter to it (here’s how to do that in Canva.(opens in a new tab or window)) Dark filters are usually the best option because it can make a white font pop, while letting you retain the details of your image. But with your slides gray and your font white, wouldn’t your presentation look a bit bland?

You can avoid that by adding touches of bright colors to your deck. Use section titles in solid vibrant colors and add touches of it to your filtered image slides—exactly how it’s done in the presentation above and the template we have right here:

07. Render your background photos with color overlays

Color overlays can do a lot for your presentation. Design by Rebekah Cancino

Pack your presentation with life by using photos and adding on colorful overlays to it. Although this was done splendidly in the example above, there’s actually a better use for it: incorporate your brand colors. Instead of adding your logo to every slide, you can instill your brand’s personality into an image just by injecting it with your signature colors.

Color overlay is a brilliant design technique but can be quite hard to replicate without the right tools (we definitely don’t recommend doing it in PowerPoint). Fortunately, a few clicks is all it takes to recreate this look in Canva. Find out more about how to use Canva as an alternative to other software(opens in a new tab or window) and try it for yourself by clicking through the template here:

08. Bring new meaning to your slides using texture

The texture added to this presentation design by Jonathan Lavoie-Levesque, combined with the color palette, gives it a vintage feel

Texture(opens in a new tab or window), depending on how it’s used, can bring new meaning to your slides. In the example above, the texture and colors together create a vintage looking deck. The presentation is about capitalizing on location and the good ol’ map for better business in the digital age, and it works perfectly with the old school-inspired slides.

On the other hand, the texture used for this free Canva template below uses a texture to give the design a contemporary feel.

09. Balance your main points with a visual aid

The visual aid can help drive the message across. Presentation designed by Markus Sandelin

In this presentation, the text is always offset with a visual aid. The simplicity and consistency of the slides and style of images unite the whole presentation. If you have a presentation meant mainly to re-iterate your speaking points, this is the keynote design to go for.

Another way to do this is to simply use one image—but in different ways.

10. Apply differently styled images while maintaining consistency

Different illustrations can still pull off a cohesive look. Design by Brad Frost.

We’ve discussed how to use photos and icons in your presentation—in this one we’ll put together different kinds of illustrations while keeping your deck consistent. As shown in the example above, the main idea is to tie together your images and your slides by using the same set of colors.

Different illustrations—some with outlines, some without, some in completely different stylings—can be used but use them with the same shades of color. Pick a color palette and apply it to your images. If you click on the images below, you can try changing the colors using the Canva editor.

11. Use text boxes

Reid Peifer & Shane Pearlman uses text boxes in their design to emphasize important points.

Text boxes can do two things: one, make text pop out from a busy background (e.g. a photo) and two, highlight an important point. With it, you don’t even have to change your font type or even make the text size much bigger than your body text—as long as the text is in a text box differentiated or highlighted in a vibrant color, it will be regarded as an important piece of information.

12. Frame your images with slide headers

Mathijs Beks uses a combination images and headers to get their point across

As with #9, this kind of presentation is best done when reiterating your speaking points. It’s easily one of the simplest presentation design format in this article. Simply juxtapose your photo with a header, footer, or a sidebar.

You can either use full-color photos and juxtapose it with a neutralizing tone, as done in the example above. Or you can set your images in grayscale(opens in a new tab or window) and juxtapose it with a bright-colored header, footer, or sidebar, as in the template below. It depends on what you want to highlight more—the image or the text?

13. Find the perfect font pair and capitalize on it

Design from Slides That Rock

Your favorite font pair(opens in a new tab or window) can find a great home in your keynote presentation. Or if you have a decorative font, remember that it’s best matched with a simple sans serif.

The design above uses the Lobster font to complement its sans serif. In the template below, the main font is called Sensei. This aesthetic can be used for copy-heavy presentations—just make sure you’re using the decorative font as your headline and the sans serif for your body copy.

14. Make illustrations out of simple shapes

Well organized and selected basic images can pack quite a punch. Design by Adii

The design above doesn’t even use icons and it still manages to look highly professional. It’s proof that you can use elements that are free (or at least, they’re free in Canva) and still come up with a stunning design.

15. Set your text or elements side by side

Create contrast by putting two elements side by side. Design by Louis Ingelaere.

In the presentation above, one idea is juxtaposed with another to demonstrate the contrast between the two.

Your turn

Your keynote presentation doesn’t have to be complicated. As we’ve shown in this article, sometimes all it takes is the right set of icons, font pair, or just one distinct color to bring your ideas to life.

If you still feel the need for a tiny bit of help, feel free to use the templates we’ve included in this article — we’ve chosen the best ones in the Canva library just for you. Additionally, if you're looking for a keynote presentation template, you can find a wide variety of options on SlidesCarnival, where you can also explore free Google Slides themes(opens in a new tab or window) you can edit in Canva. Happy designing!

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