Presentations are literally everywhere! They are so common that I think you’ve made at least 10 during your studies at university or at work, haven’t you? But what is the difference between a great presentation and just a presentation? Let’s have a look at some key points on how to make your PPP (PowerPoint Presentation) the most amazing piece of content!
Great presentations are often simple. Why is it so? Well, first, the less information you have on your slides, the more powerful that information becomes. Imagine a PPP with a lot of text boxes, 5 logos and 10 pictures all on one slide – well done, you’ve completely confused the audience! Just keep it simple: one logo (if necessary), few pictures (again, if they are needed), and not more than 2 text boxes. That way you allow the audience to focus on the main points without anything distracting them.
There are some PPPs without text, of course. But the majority does have a textbox or two. Yet a lot of people still copy-paste full Wikipedia passages onto one slide hoping the audience reads it all. Remember, the best presentations are often meaningless without actual narration of the speaker! The slides are there to support the speaker, not make the them superfluous. Experts say that ideally every slide has only one idea – it can be a key sentence, figure or even an illustration of some sort.
*There are some PPPs specially for reading (without the speaking part). In that case, more text is required, of course. Even so, don’t overload your slides with long passages, 3-5 key sentences/bulletpoints per slide, while giving priority to charts and visual illustrations.
3. Animation/special effects
Isn’t it great – the text flying in from all the screen? – Uhm, no. Once again, experts advise you to keep it simple and use not more than 2 types of animation in the PPP. Listeners will be bored quickly if every slide involves 30 seconds of text flying in and out. Don’t place transition effects between every slide and don’t make them longer than 5 seconds (ideally 1-2!). Oh, and avoid using cheesy transition sound effects – that is just unprofessional and outdated.
Colour is also a great concern for a lot of presenters for if the room is too dark or perhaps there’s too much light and you are not prepared for it then “Houston, we have a problem”. If you are to present in a dark room (such as a large hall), then a dark background (dark blue, grey, etc.) with white or light text is great. But if you plan to keep most of the lights on (which is highly advisable) then a white background with black or dark text works much better.
Plus, certain colours evoke certain emotions: the right colour can be CTA(call-to-action), can motivate or persuade your audience. All colours can be divided into 2 basic groups: Cool (shades of blue, green) and Warm (shades of red, orange or yellow). Cool work best for backgrounds as they appear to recede away from us. Warm generally work best for objects in the foreground (such as text).
Pay attention to your template: of course it’s easy just to use one of the PowerPoint templates, but a well-chosen one (or even a custom made one!) would suit your needs much better. No offence to Microsoft for they have some nice templates most definitely, but people have probably seen them all countless number of times by now. Don’t be lazy and search for a great PPT (PowerPoint Template) online or even make one yourself!
The only criteria here is the ease with which the audience can read the text. Try to avoid using provided fonts and choose something new and fresh (but remember, readable!). Experts believe that San-Serif fonts are easier to read on big screens and therefore are better for presentations. But regardless on your choice, never use more than 2 complementary fonts (eg. Arial and Arial Black). Nothing is worse than having a different font on every slide (you’d be surprised how common this is!).
7. Video, Audio
PowerPoint allows users to view videos or listen to audio files without exiting the programme, making it quite convenient to use during a presentation. Using a video illustrates your points better, as well as shifts the audience from your speaking (which they might be a little tired with by now). My favourite is to use interviews with experts on the topic of the presentation to give the audience a referral source (“oh, even Bill Gates thinks so!”).
The last piece of advice is to view your PPP before presenting 2-3 times. You’ll be shocked with some silly mistakes you’ll notice: wrong text font/size, animation not working, video not working (very common! Make sure to have a backup file somewhere!), typos (also very comon) etc.
Good luck in your presentations!