How to use icons in your Canva presentation

Combine Canva’s templates and Iconfinder’s icons to take your presentations to the next level

Nowadays you don’t have to consider yourself a creative guru to make beautiful presentations, images for social media, or any other graphical material. Tools like Canva empower everyone to create beautiful designs.

And if you combine these tools with graphic material from content marketplaces, you can take your creations from great to excellent.

Just recently, we wrote about using Canva and Iconfinder to create Story Highlight covers for Instagram. In this post, we will be showing you how to spice up your presentation slides with icons. Click here, if you want to jump directly to the steps 👇

Here is a sneak peek into the result:

A couple of slides from our sample presentation

Icons are particularly great for using in presentations because they can revive your slides while maintaining the consistency. They also help to explain and memorize information. Studies have shown that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. Also, presentations using visual support are 43% more persuasive than unaided presentations. These are some pretty good arguments for enhancing your slides with icons.

Now, let’s jump straight into the process.

Step 1: Plan your presentation

Before you dive into the exciting part of playing around with the templates, colors, and icons, you should do some prep work.

We suggest focusing on the story and the key points that you want to communicate in your presentation, rather than writing all the text you want to display or tell. This way, you will be able to have an overview and see which parts could be presented in a more illustrative form, instead of just pasting the text blocks into the slides.

Portray concepts visually in the slides (see examples on the right) while keeping your text in the speaker notes

In our example, we will use a presentation created by our colleague Monica for a Dribbble meetup in El Salvador. The purpose of this presentation was to briefly present Iconfinder and share the key insights from Monica’s latest Icon Designer Report. As you will notice, the slides are playful and not cramped with text, which makes them easy-to-digest.

Step 2: Choose a template

When you have your story and your key information points ready, pick your “canvas” — the template that you are going to use for the slides. Canva has a lot of brilliant options. They are nicely sorted in categories, such as “Business presentations”, “Education presentations”, “Marketing presentations”, and similar.

When you open Canva, search for “presentation”, and you are instantly taken to the “Templates” tab. The difficult part is choosing the one you are going to use. We recommend going for simpler styles, to begin with. You can always add more elements later.

Monica went with the “Education” category and picked a simple and clean “Purple fun” template.

Step 3: Choose an icon set

Now that you have your basis ready, it’s time to choose the “spices” — the icons that you are going to use in the presentation. Canva has some built-in options in the “Elements” tab. Some of them are free, and others are to be purchased either one-by-one or by signing up for a paid subscription.

Yet, to ensure better consistency, and have way more options, we recommend looking for full icon sets outside of Canva. You can choose them based on the topic of your presentation, though sometimes using an unexpected theme can prove to be a more creative approach.

To find consistent icon sets, we suggest exploring Iconfinder’s categories. You can sort the sets into “free” and “premium”, depending on your budget. If you are going for free icons, remember to check the license agreement, and see if it requires to credit the author.

When you find something you like, download it in PNG format, size 512px x 512px for a smooth, good-resolution import to Canva. For her presentation, Monica chose a playful “Hobbies” icon set.

If you scroll down, under the set you will see other related icons from the same family. This is helpful when you look for an icon in the same style, but a different theme.

If you need specific icons that would be uniquely tailored for your brand, you can order a custom icon set from one of our icon designers.

Step 4: Work work work

Now you’ve reached the most time-consuming part — putting it all together and adjusting to perfection.

Good news is that every single step in Canva is very intuitive — including importing the icons that you have downloaded from Iconfinder. Simply go to the “Uploads tab”, add an icon from your computer, then drag-and-drop and resize it to fit other elements on the slide.

Canva has released this quick video tutorial with 5 tips for using icons in your designs. A couple of them are related to playing around with the transparency of the icon. The GIF below demonstrates how to adjust the transparency of an element in Canva’s current interface.

The remaining majority of our work will go into adding the text, adjusting the colors, fonts, sizes, and making sure that the slides are not overcrowded with content. Using a template solves a lot of these challenges, but you can always put some work into customizing it and making it feel your own.

Not all slides have to have icons, photos, or graphs. Some should focus on the text. In the “Elements” tab, you can find shapes, gradients, and lines that are great for jazzing up the otherwise empty slides.

To duplicate an element, select it and click “CMD + C” and then “CMD + V” (Mac) or “CTRL + C” and “CTRL + V” (Windows)

End result

Here is the end result of Monica’s presentation. Feel free to draw inspiration from the different types of slides she has used.

Some useful icon families for your presentations

Below are five great icon families with thousands of icons in a similar style to get you started.

Leto family — 2,766 icons by Laura Reen

Beautiful subtle icon family. You can change blue to any other color using our icon editor.

Scenarium family — 650 icons by Icojam

One of the most popular illustrative sets on Iconfinder, Scenarium is perfect for presentations.

Stick Figures — 13,656 icons by Gan Khoon Lay

Probably the most extensive stick figure library in the world. It covers (almost) everything you can imagine. And it keeps growing!

Diversity Avatars — 770 icons by iconify

If you need graphics that show real humans — look no further than this extensive (and continuously growing) collection of avatars.

Organic family — 1,332 icons by Iconfinder

Beautifully crafted colorful icon pack. We used icons from this family in our example presentation.

If you have any questions about Iconfinder or working with icons in Canva, feel free to ask us in the comments.

Have fun creating your designs!

Disclaimer: Iconfinder is not affiliated with Canva in any way.

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