The PowerPoint victim is sitting in the audience, glazed expression, looking at the clock, drawing pictures on a notepad – wishing they were anywhere else rather than in the confined space of PowerPoint hell!
The fact is that more than likely the presenter has taken a lot of time and effort in researching content and creating their presentation only to fall at the last hurdle and not think “How can I engage my audience?”
Let’s add some oomph to PowerPoints and follow these simple tips each time creating a presentation.
Keep it simple
Your PowerPoint is a visual representation of your topic, so make sure you prepare a separate script or outline to speak to that keeps your audience engaged to the slides. Remember that less is more and your content needs to shine through rather than be lost in a whole heap of waffle. Guide your audience through a logical sequence of your topic, a bit like story telling: introduction, middle, conclusion.
Branding & theme
For a professional and cohesive presentation, branding is a must. Take the time to set up your master slide with your brand – use the correct colours, logos and fonts. Create a theme that is not overly busy but shows some design that represents your image. If this is not your strongest point, get someone who does know to create a themed set of slides for you to use as a template. Make sure with your fonts, that you make them large emough for people to read from a distance and perhaps think about that if you have a ‘fancy’ font for your business artwork, that this will not be suitable for a PowerPoint. Using sans serif fonts are best for the bulk of the PowerPoint and a contrast font (maybe your business font) can be applied for highlighted text.
Don’t fall foul of over using animations! Tempting as they are, it can reduce the impact of a quality presentation. Using ‘fly-in’ or ‘wipe’ from the left are the most professional and the least likely to make your slides look like a comic story.
No lengthy paragraphs
A PowerPoint is not a manuscript. Your audience are there to listen to YOU present NOT read a lengthy paper. The best and easiest way to engage your audience is to create bullet point outlines that you expand upon in your script.
A picture tells a thousand words
Using good quality pictures and graphics consistently throughout your presentation enhances your topic and much more likely to capture the attention of your audience. These include: photos, infographics, charts and tables. Keep them consistent and on brand. Engage the help of a designer rather than using amateur finished designs – this will hurt your presentation.
Videos can also be part of your content – as long as you ensure: the sound works, the video is large enough to view and that they are not lengthy .
Rehearse & test drive
We cannot stress how important it is to rehearse. You must know your content, script and order of your slides so you can move about your PowerPoint with fluidity. A good way to see if your slides have a natural flow is to use the slide sorter before you finalise. Look at the slides and see if the flow suits your script and if any changes need to be made in the order. Keeping the slides to a minimum is important so that when you present you are not shuffling through the deck so quickly that your audience have trouble keeping up with you and do not read from the slides – this makes you look like you do not know your content.
Presentations that go over 20 minutes are very hard on an audience – short and sweet is key!
If everything goes wrong on the day and trust us it happens at least once to all of us, you must have a Plan B!