White space…also known as negative space. I've seen a few definitions, but basically it is the absence of anything. It's the area of a design that's COMPLETELY empty, and I love it. Don't you?
Please note: "White space" does not actually have to be the color white. It's simply empty space, which can represented by any color.
There is something so aesthetically pleasing about white space that it is used in nearly every PowerPoint or Keynote presentation I design. It creates a certain clarity and helps the audience focus on the important elements of the presentation.
Some of the best examples of white space I've found are in commercials. Check out this recent commercial for Wonderful® Pistachios:
This entire ad campaign has been successful not only because of the funny concepts, but because the effective use of white space and consistent contrast (every commercial uses the lime green) makes the commercials easy to watch and recall, which is pivotal in TV advertising.
Of course, Apple has been doing these white space ads effectively for years now.
One of the problems plaguing presenters, especially in "corporate" presentations, is the perpetual need to fill this white space. "Let's not leave any wasted space" they say. "Let's put our logo in there. Maybe our website as well. Can we fit the phone number? Okay, let's put that in there as well." What results is a jumbled mess that confuses audiences, looks terrible, and creates annoying noise.
I've said this before. If your need to remind your audience who they are listening to on EVERY slide, then you've got bigger problems. How many people leave in the middle of a presentation to visit your website or call your phone number? Even if they're looking at the slides after the presentation, I highly doubt that the only way they'll be able to figure out your contact info is in the header or footer of a PowerPoint presentation.
During the first half of the Wonderful Pistachios commercial, you don't even know what company the commercial is advertising. No logo. No website. No phone number. The product info takes up maybe two seconds and isn't even narrated. No logo is ever shown (although the bag of nuts is) and the website URL is shown at the end of the commercial, where it belongs. Oh, and the Mac commercial? Their branding shows up in the final two seconds of a 30 second commercial.
White space is a beautiful thing. Don't be afraid to embrace it.