The Design Business Show 220: Using PowerPoint in Your Business with Presentation Designer, Adrienne Johnston

Director : Melissa Burkheimer | March 20, 2023
Check out episode 220 of The Design Business Show with Adrienne Johnston to learn about presentation design.

Adrienne Johnston is a presentation designer who specializes in helping clients visualize their content in PowerPoint for the purpose of landing new clients, educating existing internal or external clients, or securing investment capital. Adrienne’s current clients include Meta, Microsoft, Samsung, and Marriott.

Additionally, Adrienne advocates for presentation design to be recognized as a design profession and coaches other presentation designers on building their successful presentation design businesses.

Adrienne currently resides in Seattle, Washington, with her husband, daughter, and two cats

Here’s what we covered on the episode:

How Adrienne Landed on Presentation Design

  • Adrienne shares that she majored in chemistry, where she spent more time making her lab report presentations look pretty than on the actual data, and after college, she realized the lab environment wasn’t for her
  • How Adrienne was hired for a startup in the healthcare space where she self-taught herself on nights and weekends to help with design
  • In 2017, Adrienne wanted more flexibility and wanted to work for herself, so she got on Upwork and started doing any general design work people wanted but realized after a few months that she needed a better and more sustainable way to do her business
  • Adrienne used her background in science to help create a process and look at what work came naturally to her, took the least amount of time, and wasn’t as competitive, which is how she landed on presentations
  • People get caught up in the plans and ideas, but Adrienne says it benefitted her to start and take action without having all the knowledge because then she was able to find where she fits in – she tells people to just get started instead of thinking it has to be something fancy
  • In the first few months of her business, Adrienne realized people would pay her for her skills, she wasn’t efficient enough to scale and make the revenue and lifestyle she wanted, and she had a customer acquisition problem
  • As a freelancer, Adrienne says she doesn’t have to serve every client; she needs to find a way to make her business work for her, and if she doesn’t have boundaries, no one else is going to
  • Executives at big companies do senior leadership meetings or present to the board, and they know they can’t take cruddy-looking slides into those meetings, but they can’t compete for those resources on the marketing team, so they find their own people to hire

Building an Aligned Business + Adrienne’s Course

  • After doing some research, Adrienne optimized her website for SEO, and within 3 months, she was ranking for the term freelance presentation designer and started getting a flow of big-name clients, like Samsung
  • When it comes to using templates and guides for clients and herself in the business, Adrienne says it depends on where the client is and explains that for pitch decks, they might have a logo and some colors, but they don’t have an established brand style or guide
  • On Adrienne’s website, it says she can do presentations within 48 hours, but she says that no one asks for that service, but having that on her website has doubled her conversion rate
  • Adrienne explains why building an agency wouldn’t work for how she wants to run her business
  • To help yourself find clarity in what you want, ask yourself if there were no limits, what you would want – write it down and commit to it 
  • Adrienne gives many ideas on how to think about long-term goals and break them down into smaller chunks to achieve them so you can build a business that is better aligned with you
  • When creating your goals, you have to acknowledge that you might backslide – Adrienne shares that in 2020, she said that she wasn’t working Fridays anymore, but at some point, she went back to working Fridays
  • After optimizing her website for SEO, Adrienne had people reach out asking her to help them become presentation designers, so she started having informal one-on-one coaching calls and realized she needed to take all her knowledge about business and design and institutionalize it
  • In 2020, Adrienne launched her course, Six-Figure Presentation Designer, which is all about helping people specifically focused on presentation design to reach and surpass that six-figure mark
  • Reach out and get access to Adrienne’s resources at


Links mentioned:

Designing and Thriving Resources

Adrienne Johnston’s Website

Six-Figure Presentation Designer


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