I can guarantee that as you’re reading this, someone somewhere in this world is falling asleep to a PowerPoint presentation. There are thousands of business presentations a day throughout the world, most of which are presented in PowerPoint.
Don’t get me wrong, I like PowerPoint and its cousins Prezi and Keynote. What I don’t like are boring presentations. And what I hate is when PowerPoint is used as a crutch. The next time I witness someone reading the text of their slides word for word, I’m going to steal the clicker.
PowerPoint presentations can be a powerful way to distribute content, but they can never take the place of good content. If you do choose to use a slide deck, it is important to prepare it carefully. If you want your slides to capture your audience’s attention, follow these seven useful tips for improving your presentations.
Focus on content
Many people make the mistake of devoting too much time to creating the PowerPoint slides while neglecting the presentation’s message. You should work the other way around: it is only after you have planned your presentation that you should start creating the slides.
Do the necessary research first, organize your information logically, determine if PowerPoint is the most appropriate medium, and then start creating the slides to present that information. In some instances, skipping the slide deck and using flip charts, large pictures, or physical props may make a presentation more powerful.
Keep it concise
Make sure your presentation is short and to the point. If you have too many slides, they will be difficult to follow and you risk losing your audience’s attention.
Avoid including long sentences or full paragraphs. Walls of text are difficult to read and easy to forget. Instead, use bullet points to summarize your key points.
The focus of the presentation should be on you and your message and not the slides behind you.
Do not overdo animation
I love making a word fly across the screen while spinning and shrinking as it lands on the perfect spot on a slide, but I edit out most, if not all, of my animations. Too many animations and special effects on your slides can be distracting. The audience will focus more on these gimmicks and forget the core objective of your presentation. Make sure that you keep animations and transitions to a minimum and instead focus on your presentation itself.
Use appropriate fonts
Fancy fonts may look beautiful when you are creating a slideshow, but many fonts are difficult to read, especially when projected onto larger screens. Stick with basic fonts that can be read from afar so the audience can focus on your message instead of squinting to read.
If you are doing a presentation for a product or service, ensure that your slides are consistent with your branding. For instance, use the same color schemes, font types (where appropriate) and logos as your product or service.
This will help your audience better connect with your message and increase your brand awareness at the same time.
Use images wisely
There are many advantages to using images in your presentation, but it is important that you use them intentionally. Using too many can become a distraction to your audience. Make sure that every image adds value to your presentation.
If an audience member can get all the information they need from your slides alone, then why even bother presenting? If you’ve built a great presentation, your slides and visuals will support your narration and not supplant it.
If you’ve used impactful images, some of your slides may have no text at all, and will be meaningless without your narration.
If you must have a handout, rather than providing 25 pages of slides, it’s much more useful to provide an in-depth, one-page document that highlights and expands on the content of your presentation.
There are many factors to consider if you want to create a successful PowerPoint presentation. It is important to do plenty of research, take your time organizing the content, and prepare your slides in a logical manner that does not distract your audience with too many images, fancy fonts or extra animations.
Dan Natividad, a Stockton native, is a partner at Port City Marketing Solutions along with Kristen Dyke and Erin Diego. Dan can be reached at [email protected]