Please, ...someone, ...stop this PowerPoint

03 February 2017

Top 5 PowerPoint tips every presenter needs to know

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Top 5 PowerPoint tips every presenter needs to know

Now that’s more like it. You read our tips and your presentation was fantastic. These people above are in awe of your PowerPoint skills and letting you know, apart from the guy on the right. He’s not so in awe, ...just a little stunned and wondering how you just pulled it off!

In reality, we’ve all endured lifeless presentations where everything in you is desperate for the speaker to look up from their laptop and for just a moment look us in the eye and share something from their heart. Instead lines of tiny text surrounded by colourful pictures come forth and drain all remnants of life from an otherwise pleasant afternoon.

Bad PowerPoint can happen to good people.

Having seen success and failures, and participated and delivered both too, here’s our top 5 tips every person asked to do a presentation needs to know.

1 – You haven’t been asked to ‘deliver a PowerPoint presentation’, you‘ve been asked to deliver a message.

There is a big difference. Your job is to communicate something and the first question is, “What are you trying to communicate?” Before opening any presentation software, establish what you want to communicate. Write it down, plan out what you are going to say and then ask the question, “Will PowerPoint help communicate this message?”

It may be that a ten minute speech, well-rehearsed and from the heart will be far more effective than 36 slides detailing each paragraph of thought. The attention will be on you, and you alone and the words you are imparting. If however, visual stimulus will help, go for it and build a presentation to aid your message.

2 – Complement, don’t reproduce your message.

Text is to be used to bring emphasis and structure but avoid at all cost paragraphs. It’s too much. Even a good quote gets lost on the screen and distracts from the power of good verbal delivery. It also removes the suspense. Why should anyone listen to you if they already know what you are going to say? Let PowerPoint re-enforce your message, not repeat it.

3 – Avoid cheese!

As far as you are concerned, everyone is lactose intolerant. However much that sound effect may have made you chuckle in preparation, avoid the temptation to use it at all cost! Thinking about a manufactured applause between slides – don’t do it! Found an amusing GIF to bring light relief to your important point – steer clear!! Inevitably most of these have been seen and heard a hundred times, more than that they diminish your message because whilst you may be a professional at the top of your game, these things are not. If you want to tell a joke, tell a joke. If you want to make a humorous point go for it. If you want to bring a bit of comic relief it will help but avoid the above, they will leave your audience in despair.

4 – Consider the use of a Video to add impact to your presentation.

A good video will enhance a point, not make it for you and definitely don’t just add a video because you like it and found it funny on Facebook. Once you have the right video, your priority is making sure it works seamlessly and does not distract from your message due to a technical failure of some kind. Firstly do all you can to embed the video, and have it auto start on your click. Just adding a YouTube clip will mean you have to click the screen to get it to play and also relies on an internet connection which is something that may be out of your control.

Also don’t forget to test the sound. Firstly check it comes out of your laptop at a good level, then check it through the PA system you are using so as not to lose the first 20 seconds while some one runs around and sorts that out. These are simple checks, but worth doing to get it right.

5 - Give the audience your attention.

There is a theme here, that PowerPoint exists to support your message. When it comes to delivery, make sure that is still true and you present to your audience, not to a screen. Use a laptop or preview monitor to keep an eye on where you are, you don't want to be turning to a large screen. However nice people say your back is, they want to see your face! Rehearse your presentation, so you can look up and engage well. A little practice will go a long way.

Now get out there and deliver a first class message - you got this!

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