At some point in time, we’ve all been required to give a presentation in front of a group. Maybe it was when you were in school, or perhaps it was for your department or company. No matter the setting, there are specific things that make a presentation memorable and exciting for the audience.
A great presentation requires more than a brilliant idea. A great presentation incorporates a slide show with text, video, web links, and interactive components. One of the most commonly used presentation tools is PowerPoint. When done correctly, PowerPoint can significantly enhance the overall presentation and help your audience follow along with what you are saying. When done incorrectly, a PowerPoint presentation can bore your audience and serve as a crutch or teleprompter for the speaker. Yikes.
Here are a few ways you can improve your PowerPoint slides and create a more dynamic and engaging presentation.
1.) Create a brand specific template
You presentation is an extension of your brand. The look and feel of the images and PowerPoint slides should align with your brand’s overall feel. For example, don’t create a PowerPoint that is casual and kitschy if you present your company as buttoned up and classic. This can create a disconnect. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add humor to your slides, but stay on point and on message.
2.) Save your slides as JPEGs
Nothing is worse than discovering that the format and text you spent hours perfecting is altered when you go to give your presentation. In order to prevent your format or fonts from changing on different computers, consider saving your slides as JPEGs. Once you finalize your presentation, save each slide as a JPEG and insert the JPEGs back onto your slides. The overall file size will increase, but this is an easy way to ensure that your PowerPoint won’t change when displayed on a different computer.
3.) Use “Presenter View”
Presenter View is an extremely underutilized tool in PowerPoint. It is found under the “Slide Show” tab. On this screen, the presenter can input additional notes and a timer, as well as your main presentation slides. However, your audience will only be able to see the main projected presentation. Presenter View remains hidden from others and is useful in helping the presenter keep track of time and create a more natural-sounding presentation.
4.) Rely on visuals instead of text
Nobody enjoys a text heavy presentation. In fact, using paragraphs of text is a sure way to put your audience to sleep. Instead rely on visuals to get your point across. Don’t use PowerPoint as a teleprompter for what you want to say. You should have practiced your presentation to the point that you could give it without any aids or visuals on hand. Remember, your PowerPoint isn’t supposed to serve as an outline of your presentation; it is supposed to amplify and enhance your message with visuals, graphs, and video.
5.) Be selective, and stay simple!
Simply put, be choosy with your content! Not everything you want to say or demonstrate needs to be a sentence or slide on your PowerPoint. This will only overwhelm or bore your audience. Only use visuals, words, and bullet points that are absolutely necessary. Although visuals are best for getting your point across, overusing images or using irrelevant pictures will confuse your listeners. Keep it simple and straightforward, and your audience will be thankful.
6.) Don’t give out a copy of the presentation
Giving out a copy of your slides is a big mistake. A PowerPoint deck is supposed to support the speaker and be used alongside the presentation. They are not meant to stand-alone. If you would like to provide something for your audience, design a handout with the important information and data from your speech. Designing your PowerPoint like a handout with the intent to give copies to your audience will result in an overcrowded, cluttered, and text-heavy slide deck.
Remember you are your brand. Of course, each presentation, topic, and audience is very different. Take the time to plan and strategize – before you start outlining your speech – to determine what tactics will be most effective for you.
What tips or presentation guidelines have you found useful or beneficial? Do you have any other suggestions for improving a PowerPoint presentation? Share your ideas and thoughts in the comments below.