How to Ace Your Next PowerPoint Presentation
PowerPoint may have a bad rap, but Microsoft’s Premiere slideshow software still works great for its intended purpose: as a visual presentation aid, not the presentation itself. Admittedly, that’s hard for many of us. We’ve settled into the PowerPoint deck as the star of the show. We rely on our slides to tell a story when we should be the ones telling a story.
Think of the best presentation you have ever seen in person. You probably remember it because of the speaker’s energy or the power he or she channeled into his or her speech. Do you remember the transition effects used in PowerPoint? Or what the words looked like on the screen? Probably not.
However, you may remember a glaring error in a PowerPoint. Perhaps you noticed mismatched fonts, poorly cropped photos, or blurry graphics that distracted you from the message the presenter was trying to convey. This is where PowerPoint can do more harm than good — and this is where a little extra knowledge can mean the difference between a good presentation that people won’t mind and a great one that people will remember.
Instead, focus your energy on the right important factors: background colors that are pleasing to the eye; concise bulleted or numbered lists; matching fonts, sizes and colors; and appropriately aligned images. Consider using one of PowerPoint’s built-in templates to let the program do the heavy lifting for consistency.
Yes, it’s easy to copy and paste large chunks of text into your PowerPoint presentation and no more. In November, Fast company Columnist Darren Menabney put it best: “Creating busy, text-rich monstrosities is actually easier because you don’t have to think too much. Just throw whatever you think you want to say onto the slides, hope the audience focuses on that, and let the slides do the heavy lifting.” Instead, think of each slide as the first line of one Message you’ll create yourself, with short lists, short, crisp sentences, and compelling graphics to support that story. And if you need to add all that supporting info…
As long as it’s affordable and environmentally responsible, you should provide the audience with printed documents (not just hard copies of your slides) to accompany your presentation. If your PowerPoint needs to include these important facts, feel free to wrap them up here.
If you’ve ever laughed at a fly-in or fade effect in a headline that’s used over and over again in a nagging PowerPoint presentation, keep that in mind before you sit down to create your own. The last thing you want is a misguided special effect robbing you of the power of your slideshow and your own energy as a presenter.
The most effective way to sell your PowerPoint is to think outside the box from the start. Captivate your employees’ attention with an intriguing anecdote or a compelling question to start with, and you’ll find that their emotional involvement will stay high to the end.
As marketing guru Seth Godin says, “Slides should reinforce your words, not repeat them.” What you write on your slides for all audiences to see and read for themselves should NOT be repeated verbatim. Instead, use your presentation as a starting point for deeper conversations. Encourage interactivity by asking viewers to interrupt you with questions during the slideshow. Try to speak as you would at a business dinner: professional of course, but dynamic enough to keep things interesting.
To reinforce the idea that you should be the focus of the audience and not the screen behind you, use a few gentle shortcut gestures to get their attention. Our favorites include:
- Press N or Input or picture down or right arrowor down arrow or spacebar to go to the next slide
- Press P or page up or left arrow or up arrow or backspace to return to the previous slide
+Enterto jump to a specific slide number
- Press B or Period fade to black (or W or comma fade to white)
- Press S or + to stop or restart an automatic slide show
- Press Esc or Ctrl+Break or – to end a slide show
Another way to demonstrate your PowerPoint skills is to jump straight into a slideshow instead of navigating to it from your desktop. When you’re done with your presentation, save it with a .PPS or .PPSX extension, which denotes a full slideshow. This way, if you double-click it, it will open directly in the slideshow window, not in PowerPoint’s default editing mode.
In many cases, PowerPoint presentations are ready just minutes before delivery, which can result in minor (or even major) violations of all of the tips above. Once you think you’re done, watch that slideshow again (or three) — especially after you’ve taken a break from it and had the idea of presenting it bouncing around in your head. One of the biggest benefits of spending the extra time editing and polishing is that you can spend more time thinking about the bigger picture of your presentation. Which brings us to our last point…
A good PowerPoint presentation has more than just an introductory slide, a conclusion slide, and lots of filler in between. Make sure each slide feeds into your narrative and contributes to your overall goal, which should be to make a persuasive argument about your chosen topic.
Follow this last recommendation and everyone will leave your slideshow with a good idea of what you were trying to achieve – they might even invite you to present again in the near future!
Knowing what to do and how to do it is an important part of Microsoft Office. Whether you need help with PowerPoint, World, Excel, or Outlook, CMIT solutions can help your business increase efficiency and increase productivity with trusted advice, automatic updates, reliable data backup, and more. Contact us today – we’ll take care of the IT so you don’t have to.
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