In my career I have made scores of PowerPoint presentations, in front of large groups and small; Some great, and others, not so much. PowerPoint presentations are an effective way of communicating your message to larger or small groups or even to individuals. But the common trait and superseding benefit is that presentations like these can make even the most complex issues accessible to the lay thinker especially in this fast-paced world where time is of the essence.
What I will share with you here will give you what I have learned as time proven methods to help your presentations be better received by your audience. As I often say, if you can learn from my failures, then they’ve served a purpose.
By way of disclaimer, much of what I have learned can be found in Microsoft tutorials… but not so well drafted (if you know what I mean).
6 Tips to Make Your Powerpoint Presentations Awesome
1.) Basic principles to Remember:
- Remember, YOU are making the presentation that the PowerPoint supports not vise versa. Your slides should complement what you have to say, not say it for you.
- Sway the audience with you. Keep slides direct and to the point — less is more! The fewer words the better.
- Choose a background color or design that enhances and complements your presentation rather than competes with it.
- Avoid clutter at all costs; Don’t get too fancy — a simple font, elegant color scheme and clear message is more important than lots of information on the slide.
- Keep it simple! The purpose of the PowerPoint slide is to keep the mind of your audience focused — fewer words are better. Its like the billboard.
- Make a promise to your audience up front. Your title slide must be catching and relevant to your audience — offer something in the title that your audience wants; make a promise to them that the presentation will deliver.
2.) Make Headings Consistent
- Be sure that major headings are always in the same font, size and color — this provides your audience with a visual cue to where they are in the presentation.
- A little organization will go a long way to enhancing your PowerPoint presentation. Organize your thoughts before you start preparing your slides — too much mental clutter is as bad for your presentation as too much clutter on your slides.
- Use the Animation Schemes to add interest — for example the ‘Fade’ entrance animation is often used to gradually reveal content.
- Clarity is what your audience needs here so keep your message clear and focused. Keep your major slides brief — the slides are meant to summarize what you’re saying, not contain all your information.
3.) Keep Content & Presentation Simple
Keep your presentation logical and be sure that one point flows to the next. If there are sub-points, add them with an additional slide. Make sure that when you move to a new main bullet point your audience knows where they are in the presentation.
If you sense that you’re losing your audience — summarize what you’ve said and fast track it and engage the audience by asking questions. Watch your timing! Allocate a time for each slide and stick to it so as to keep track of your presentation and avoid speaking too much.
4.) Bring Presentation to Life
To illustrate your presentation and bring it to life use unique content attributes:
- Real-life stories.
- Recent news events.
- Strong and relevant anecdotes.
- Statistics that are relevant and not overwhelming — be careful of filling a slide with figures that can’t be read or quickly understood.
Make a natural segue to the next slide so that your presentation flows naturally. The gradual reveal of your points serves to keep anticipation up and enables you to flow naturally to the next point.
Consider sub-headings that provide an emotional or action-oriented aspect to your presentation — these can be very motivating to an audience.
5.) Deliver the Punch
The white OR black slide: Whenever I have a strong anecdote to tell I insert a white OR a black slide with opposing color graphics. This technique:
- Creates a screen that will break with all pervious patterns and signals importance to the audience.
- Automatically focuses the audience’s attention to the speaker.
- Provides a sure way to emphasize a strong point or tell an important story.
6.) In Conclusion; The Summary Slides
Create a summary slide of your presentation — state it succinctly in a way that wraps your presentation. Use the ‘Fade in and dim’ animation — this keeps focus on the major summary heading but still allows you to talk about summary points. Three important steps in wrapping your presentation:
- Thank your audience for taking part in the presentation.
- Call for questions, making it clear how many questions you’ll take or how long question time will last.
- Encourage the audience to take what they’ve learned in the presentation and apply it to their situation directly.
If you’re presenting to an audience, the final slide should include:
- Your contact information.
- Publications relevant to your presentation and of interest to the audience.
- Other relevant information for the audience to follow up if interested.
- Keep this slide on screen while the audience disperses.