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Widely accepted as the most useful and accessible way to create visual aids ready to share with an audience, PowerPoint presentations are often poorly constructed making them boring and arduous to sit through.
With so many uses and tools to help you give a fantastic presentation every time, it’s frustrating to see so many bad examples. Some sources claim that up to 50% of presentations are ineffective.
A well-designed slideshow allows the presenter to maintain eye contact with the audience, creating an engaging experience for all involved. On the flip side, garish colour schemes, incorrect font sizes and poor image selection can turn your points from being clear to confusing. Here are our 7 best training tips for a better presentation.
1. Get Organized with Slide Sections
Ok, so this one is obvious but you’ll be surprised how many people dive straight into creating a presentation without setting a plan and laying out the groundwork.
Ask yourself what the key messages are that you want to get across to your audience. Whether it’s updating the team on sales revenue figures or you’re pitching a sale to a potential client; be clear about your objectives and stick to the point.
PowerPoint offers some fantastic organization tools for users of all levels to utilize. Most notably Slide Sections, which enable simpler collaboration for teams and better organization for individuals. Similar to putting files into a folder, you can arrange slides into sections. Create new headers, drag and drop slides all without affecting the layout of your presentation.
2. Create a Theme with Slide Master
The best slideshow presentations carry a theme throughout. In their simplest form, standardising fonts and well-designed themes are a great starting point.
PowerPoint of course offers standard themes for you to choose from, along with recommending fonts that go well together – for those times when more than one font helps to liven up your slides.
Creating a theme, however, wouldn’t be complete without discussing Slide Master. Helping you to create a master template to carry your theme is a simple way to prevent the monotonous copy and paste tasks, which often result in mis-alignments and mistakes.
3. Use Easy to Read Fonts with Suggested Fonts
There’s little more frustrating that your audience all facing the projector squinting – perhaps if they’re facing the floor snoring. Poorly selected fonts and colour schemes can result in hard to read slides. This detracts away from the your presentation and the points that you’re trying to make.
Until 2007, PowerPoint’s Style Inspector would recommend fonts and themes to use. This feature has since been discontinued and replaced with a simple drop down citing suggested fonts, great for those that lack an eye for design.
4. Get straight to the point
Great slideshows are all about storytelling. With a beginning middle and end, your presentation will have a common plot.
Bullet points are a great way of getting to the point. Highlighting key facts and figures give the audience a quick indication of the topic without having to sift through a pile of adjectives first.
5. Use the slides as a guide
We can all remember sitting through a presentation where the presenter has read each slide word for word. Aside from being painfully boring, it’s also a massive waste of time for everybody involved. These slides tend to be word dense and could be better distributed as a white paper or a report.
Using bullets is a great way of breaking down your points into manageable chunks. Glancing at these slides allows you to elaborate or adlib whilst keeping eye contact with the room and in turn engaging with your audience.
6. Be Visual
Sure each slideshow has its own subject and aims, but we all know that pictures tell a thousand words. Used to reinforce your points or to inject a little subtle humour, images help to keep an audience captivated throughout.
As a rule of thumb, it also pays to keep things simple. Ok, so we’ve said it a hundred times already but the faster that your audience gets on the same page and understands your point, the more successful the presentation is likely to be.
Our top tip is to use charts instead of tables, with the former tending to be a graphical analysis of the data represented in the table. If the audience requires additional statistics, these should be included in handouts for later analysis.
7. Presenter view in PowerPoint 2013
If you’re lucky enough to have Office 2013 installed on your PC, you’ll be able to take full advantage of PowerPoint’s awesome new features.
Presenter View enables you too see what’s coming next before the audience. Helping to prevent embarrassing mistakes and keeping you one step ahead of the presentation is sure to make things run much more smoothly.
Other handy tools include a laser pen that is controlled by your mouse or track-pad and a zoom tool that allows you to focus on a specific area of the slide, great for table and charts.
Are you guilty of miniscule font sizes and poorly constructed slides? What’s your top tip when giving a presentation?