Powerpoint is one of the most frequently used pieces of software in the world, yet many people have never received any formal training in its use. It is well known that a good Powerpoint presentation can enhance any discussion (or presentation), and assist in effectively getting your message across. But what exactly constitutes a good Powerpoint presentation, and how can you ensure that is exactly what you will deliver every time? The following points while not exhaustive, will certainly ensure that your presentation leaves an impression for all the right reasons.
1. Maintain consistency with your presentation
Perhaps the most important point of all is to choose one font size and one font type and stick with your choice throughout your slides. This may seem obvious, but if a slideshow has been edited over time, or updated, there is always a chance that the font sizes and types may have changed.
You might not even notice that this is the case, but you can be certain your audience will. Always have someone who has never seen the presentation view it properly before you use it in public. Their eyes will be drawn to any errors or omissions that you may have glazed over fifty times in the past week.
Remember; if your presentation is a sales pitch, or a job interview, the little mistakes often have the greatest impact in the back of the mind of your audience. So, take your time and ensure you are completely confident in the quality and consistency of your Powerpoint presentation.
2. Cut down on clutter
The star of any presentation should be you, not your Powerpoint. The Powerpoint is simply a guide, an easy way to present facts, figures, and pictures. Try to keep the slides punchy and powerful, by using only keywords to assist and remind you. Avoid writing full sentences on your slides, as then you will fall into the trap of reading from your slides, something your audience will be more than capable of doing.
When this happens your presentation will no longer flow well, and will come across as scripted. People are not interested in words that slowly descend the screen, or bounce across it, and if you think of any Powerpoint presentation that annoyed you, it probably had all of those traits. Don’t use them; they are at best a distraction, and at worst a time waster that nobody is interested in. Think – Does this improve my message? If the answer is no, then steer clear of it.
3. Make use of high-resolution imagery
The impact of the images you choose are often ignored by many Powerpoint users. They become so focused on the words, that when the time comes to choose their imagery they just pick the first couple found on Google that are related to the subject matter.
This is the picture equivalent of writing in a different font on every slide – don’t do it!
You can’t have a beautiful picture of a plane on slide one, followed by a cartoon picture of a plane on the second slide, followed by a blapowck and white picture on the third slide. That demonstrates a lack of consistency and looks both disjointed and careless to your audience. Your images are just as important as your text, so spend the time making sure you have high quality and relevant images throughout your presentation.
4. Make use of charts and graphs when involving statistics
Think back to any Powerpoint presentation where you glazed over and zoned out, and nine times out of ten it will have involved a number-heavy slide. These statistics may be relevant to your presentation, but a long list of facts and figures is boring, hard to remember, and depending on the audience may be difficult to visualize.
Rather than saying that Ford has a 23 percent share of the market, Volvo has a 16 percent share and BMW, has a 9 percent share, consider presenting that via a pie chart and put the manufacturer logos inside their respective pies. People’s focus will be drawn to the chart, and they will understand it quicker than a list of written facts and figures. Then they can get back to the star of the show – you!
5. Use color sparingly (but to your advantage!)
Black and white slides may be very clean, but they can become very boring and repetitive. Use color carefully and to your advantage, but consider which colors will suit your audience (or your brand) best, and don’t forget that any change in background color will in most cases necessitate a change in text color. There is little point in having a beautiful looking slide if the audience cannot read it. A pale green background with dark black text, for instance, can look spectacular and different while being easy to read. Experiment with various combinations, until you find a choice you really like.
Don’t be scared of Powerpoint; it is an excellent piece of software, but it does take some time to get used to; and using it is an important skill to master. However by following the tips above, you will be well on your way to delivering excellent presentations, and your expertise in Powerpoint will be significantly greater than the vast majority of other Powerpoint users just by applying these five tips.