The 5 F's of Presentation Design Functionality

August 4, 2014

Great presentations demand functional design. Without it, your design exists without purpose and without meaning. What exactly is functional design, though? It's two-fold: It's a presentation design approach with a clear purpose to obtain a specific result.

In order to make sure that you are using functional design in your presentation, please refer to what I like to call the 5 F’s of Design Functionality:

FOR - What is the presentation being used FOR?

Before you open up Adobe Creative Suite or take a stab at PowerPoint, you need to have absolute clarity about the purpose of your presentation. So ask yourself:

  1. What is the topic?
  2. What are your main takeaways?
  3. How do you want your message to be remembered?


In our digital age, format is king. For instance, a presentation in Keynote doesn’t quite look the same in PowerPoint. That deck you loved on your colleague’s iPad may not look the same here on SlideShare. Your boss’ presentation on the HDTV monitor won’t look quite the same on that client’s projector. Format should never be decided at the last minute since format will dictate your design.

FANS - Who are the FANS?

The big question here is: Who is your audience? Young or old? Men or women? Corporate or trendy? Your design needs to be dictated and guided by their needs and interests. If you know your audience, you will know the right design approach.

FIT - Do all of the elements FIT?

We’ve spent quite some time on presentation design concepts like typography, white space and photography. All of them have a distinct purpose and fit. Choose wisely and make sure they have a function, too -- i.e. they serve your message and/or means of conveying your message.

FLUB - Will it FLUB?

All the time you invest building and designing a great presentation is worthless if you don’t take the extra few minutes to ensure you have no technical errors. Have a back-up plan and be sure to test everything more than once.

Remember, a great presentation requires functional design. Make sure you can answer all 5 of these areas with confidence before you even think about opening up that design program.

READ MORE: How to Make a Presentation Stick

Author Bio

Scott Schwertly is the author of How to Be a Presentation God and CEO of Ethos3, a Nashville, TN-based presentation boutique providing professional presentation design and training for national and international clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to branded individuals like Guy Kawasaki. If Scott is not working with his team building presentations, you will find him in the pool, on the bike, or on a long run. Scott lives in Nashville, TN with his wife and three dogs. He has a B.A. and M.B.A. from Harding University.

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Photo: Max Griboedov/Shutterstock