For many people, presentations are overwhelming. They struggle with the delivery or design of the slides, and the result is a mess that bores audiences. But with a few proper Keynote tips, you can deliver a successful Keynote presentation that wows the audience!
Taking cues from Apple's iconic production introductions, we can learn a lot about how to use Keynote to make great presentations. In this tutorial, we'll check out top tips for how to build Keynote presentations.
Also, before you jump into these quick Keynote tips be sure to grab a copy of our free eBook: The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations. It'll help you master the presentation process, from: initial idea, through writing, design, and delivering with impact.
15 Top Tips for Keynote Presentations
Every presenter can benefit from these Keynote presentation tips. Each of the 15 tips below will help you improve your delivery or the Keynote slides visuals you share. In either case, they're sure to improve your Mac Keynote presentation.
We've also got longer-form resources that'll teach you to use the features in full. Make sure to jump to the tutorials embedded in the Keynote design tips below to master the skill completely.
1. Borrow From Apple Presentations With Built-in Themes
If you're looking to capture the spirit of the well-known, minimalist Apple presentations that Steve Jobs made famous, try out the built-in themes.
The base for any Keynote is the theme. It controls the fonts, color scheme, and more. When choosing a theme, I recommend sticking to the simple ones that'll showcase your content without distractions, such as the minimalist Apple presentation styles that are included.
To select a theme and get started on crafting your Keynote, open the Keynote application and go to File > New or press the Command+N keys. Apple provides dozens of ready-made presets for use. Make sure to choose between Standard and Wide based on the format of the screen that you'll present on.
However, this isn't the only way to style your presentation. We'll talk more about using premium Keynote design templates in a tip below, but here's a sneak preview of 19 of the best options:
2. Use and Format Text Carefully
The basis for most Keynote presentations is text that explains your points. But, text in Keynote slides is a double-edged sword: essential for the explanation, but it must be used sparingly. Presentation experts recommend only four or five words per bullet point, and only four or five bullet points per slide.
Ultimately, you'll want to use as few words as possible to present your information. Keynotes loaded with text will bore and overwhelm your audience. Speaking points should be the basis for most presentations.
The Mac Keynote presentation is simply there to reinforce your main ideas and your structure, and also to communicate visually when needed. Bullet points are prompts for concepts or ideas on which you can expand.
Consistency in font use is also very important. This means that you pick one or two fonts and stick with those throughout. Use consistent font sizes in certain places throughout the Keynote and you'll build a uniform presentation.
Color (or often, the lack thereof) is key to presenting text well. Generally speaking, you should use black or dark grey for most of your text. For lines or headers that you want to accent, use a color that fits with your theme to ensure your text is smoothly integrated in your Keynote presentation.
3. Present Data With Graphs and Charts
Keynote has some incredible three-dimensional charts and graphs. Whenever you've got data sets to communicate, don’t hesitate to dive into these tools and create a beautiful visual. Generally, pie charts are used to show percentages, bar graphs show comparisons, and line charts show trends over time.
Charts are essential to carefully presenting data. Instead of overwhelming your audience with lists and numbers, charts provide a visual look at information.
To create one of these visuals in Keynote, go to Insert > Chart and select the appropriate chart for your use. The chart will appear. Enter your data to start building visual stories for your key metrics.
4. Use Animations Wisely
Animations are the Keynote effects that bring objects onto or off of a slide. They're ideal for bringing objects on or off a slide with an impact while speaking. Add them from the Animate menu.
To add an animation to your Mac Keynote presentation, select an object, then click Add an Effect from the menu. Then, pick an animation effect from the drop-down.
Just make sure to use them sparingly and keep the transition time to a minimum. Also, only use the more movement-based transitions for elements that you really want to accent. The idea is to animate objects with the proper timing to support your speaking point.
Make sure to check out this full guide that shows you how to use Keynote animations:
5. Plan for the Presentation
Keynote includes some great functionality to improve your speaking during your presentation. With Keynote for iOS, you can use your device as a remote for your Keynote presentation.
Keynote also includes a Presenter Notes section. Basically, for each slide, you can add detailed notes about how and what you're going to speak during that slide to coincide with what's on the screen. This could include your outline, facts, statistics, keywords, etc. To view and edit presenter notes, just go to View > Show Presenter Notes.
Best of all? You'll see your Presenter Notes while using Keynote for iOS on your device, so you can use it as your speaking cue tool.
6. Use Flowcharts to Show Processes
As we discussed above, Mac Keynote presentations should avoid text-heavy slides. They'll lose your audience's attention. For step-by-step processes, it's a great idea to use a flowchart instead of describing a process.
Use flowcharts in a Keynote presentation to map out a project, show the history of events, or explain a business process.
Check out the tutorial below for a complete guide to flowcharts:
7. Tell Stories With Timelines
One of the most powerful storytelling tools is a timeline. It helps an audience connect the past to the present and relate events. That's why I consistently recommend using a timeline as a tool that links events together in sequence. With a timeline, you can craft the history of events that lead to the present—or even into the future.
Learn how to use a timeline in your next Keynote presentation with this tutorial:
8. Use Templates as a Keynote Design Headstart
Earlier in this tutorial, we briefly reviewed the built-in Keynote templates that you can use to design your presentation. But, it's not the only way that you can rapidly design your next Keynote presentation.
If you only remember one Apple Keynote presentation tip, it's this: use pre-built templates from the professionals. When you use pre-built Keynote presentations, you save time and have hundreds of visual ideas for building your presentations.
There are two great options for sourcing the Keynote presentation templates that set you apart from your peers: Envato Elements, and Envato Market. Elements is an all-you-can-download option for Keynote presentations, while Envato Market allows you to pay one by one for templates.
If you want to see round-ups with the best templates from each marketplace, check out the Apple Keynote presentation examples below:
- Keynote19+ Modern Keynote Templates for Beautiful Presentation Designs in 2019Laura Spencer
- Keynote20+ Mac Keynote Themes: Made to Customize Quickly (2019)Sean Hodge
- PresentationsHow to Make a Great Presentation in Keynote With Template DesignsSven Lenaerts
9. Grab the Audience's Attention With Each Slide Change
A strong opening will grab the audience's attention at the outset of your Mac Keynote presentation, sure. But here's a Keynote tip that you should keep in mind: you should try to re-establish attention and interest on each and every slide change.
My favorite way to do this is to use Magic Move, a Keynote presentation transition effect that links Keynote slides together. It's one of those effects you've got to see in action to have an appreciation for what it can do. This Apple Keynote presentation tip will help you refocus on each slide change:
10. Revisit Your Slide Sequencing
As a writer, one of the most important steps is zooming out from your work and ensuring that the order of the content makes sense. This is just as important when it comes to giving presentations. What if you re-ordered your Keynote slides in a new order that brought your message together in a way that really helped you reach your audience?
One of my top Apple Keynote presentation tips is to use Light Table View to do just that. Use the View > Light Table menu option to see all of your slides with a top-down view. Drag and drop the thumbnails into a new order to re-sequence your presentation.
When you use Keynote's Light Table View, you've got a complete view of your presentation. It helps you consider the message as a whole. Consider using it to re-sequence your Keynote presentation.
11. Make Your Keynote Presentation Shareable
You may need to share your presentation with others. And the fact of the matter is that Keynote isn't the most popular presentation software. That's why it helps to convert your presentation to other formats, so that anyone can open it.
For a Keynote tip to convert your presentation to more popular formats like PowerPoint and PDF, check out this tutorial:
12. Add More Visuals to Your Keynote Presentation
Audiences have come to expect visual-heavy presentations. That means beefing up your Mac Keynote presentation with images, video clips, and graphics. It's one of the best ways to add variety to your slides.
Another advantage of using Envato Elements is that it includes stock imagery and graphics. The same subscription that gives you access to unlimited Keynote templates also unlocks stock images and graphics that can bring your presentation to life.
Check out the tutorials below for a complete guide to working with images and video in Keynote:
- KeynoteHow to Add Pictures & Backgrounds in Keynote PresentationsAndrew Childress
- KeynoteHow to Add Video & Music Files in Keynote PresentationsAndrew Childress
13. Accommodate Your Audience with Keynote Live
One of the most important Apple Keynote presentation tips is to accommodate your audience. That means making arrangements so that as many people as possible can join you to watch your presentation.
That's why I love Keynote Live, which enables you to broadcast your presentation online. Even if your audience can't gather in the same room, Keynote Live can bring everyone together to hear your message.
Check out the full tutorial below to learn how your Keynote presentation can reach anyone:
14. Master the Art of Keynote Layouts
Sure, the Mac Keynote presentation exists to serve your speaking points. But knowing your way around the app is crucial to working quickly and re-allocating your time to research and prep for your presentation. Check out the article below to make the most of your Keynote slide layouts:
15. Align the Presentation Style With Your Purpose
Above all, your presentation should align with your purpose. Every slide deck can be customized for the message, and it helps to choose visuals that match the category.
One thing that helps you to ensure alignment is to use topic-specific Keynote templates. On template libraries like Envato Elements and Envato Market, there are thousands of highly tailored templates for practically any purpose.
An example of this is pitch deck templates. It's a specific category of presentation that's got some specifics that the audience will expect. Learn more about this presentation format below:
Make a Great Keynote Presentation Today
Now you know how to make great Keynote presentations: from using theme settings, to working with text and graphics professionally, to applying simple animation, and more.
With these 15 Apple Keynote presentation tips in hand, putting together memorable presentations in Keynote is a breeze. Ultimately, make your presentation something that you would want to watch. Remember that a Keynote presentation is designed to reinforce your delivery instead of substituting for it.
Download Our (Free) eBook on Making Great Presentations
We also have the perfect complement to the quick Apple Keynote presentation tips in this article. It'll help you learn how to write, design, and deliver great presentations—deconstructing the entire process:
Grab The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations now for FREE with a subscription to the Tuts+ Business Newsletter. Get your ideas formed into a powerful presentation that'll move your audience.
Start Using These Keynote Design Tips Today!
You've just learned more about how to use Keynote, including some Keynote design tips. We've also shared Apple Keynote presentation examples from the professionally-designed pre-built presentation templates on Envato Elements and GraphicRiver.
Why note download a template and start using these Keynote design tips for your next presentation?
Editorial Note: This tutorial was originally published in September of 2013. It's been comprehensively revised to make it current, accurate, and up to date by our staff--with special assistance from Andrew Childress.