When it comes to presentations, software like Prezi and PowerPoint are the dominant applications. As professionals, we all want to put our best foot forward so having a good grasp of these applications is important. Knowing the best practices allows us to avoid the pitfalls of presentations.
It is important to note that great presentations do not necessarily equal extensive slides, full of figures and data. Slides are much more about supporting your point, rather than being the main subject of the presentation. Here are some tips to improve your presentations and keep you on the right track when designing your own presentations.
Think about your slides last
We know it sounds counter intuitive but building your slides should be the last thing to think about when you are planning a presentation. The main point is to think about your ideas, your message, structure and supporting points. Only after that, you should start to develop the slides.
Often, we see slides that are full of text, and the slide becomes the main focus, stealing attention away from the speaker. It can also lead to the audience reading ahead of the speaker and losing interest thereafter. Slides should be just one way to add a visual experience for the listeners, and not the main object during the presentation.
Stories can help guide your audience through your main narrative or message. It is a good way to get involved with your audience and help them to remember your message. This should be part of the planning stage before you begin designing the slides.
Create a consistent look and feel
In the perfect slide deck, each one should be connected showing that they are part of the same story. They need to have the same typography, colours, and imagery across all the presentation. This can be easily done using the pre-built master.
With text, less is always more
Slides packed with text is definitely something to avoid. They should support your idea and not play the most important role in your presentation. Also, it is easy to lose the audience attentions when they are reading from the screen. For your audience, it can be difficult to split their attention between two things, i.e. what are you saying and what is written on the slides. Try to keep the presentation simple and avoid using too much text by employing the famous Guy Kawasaki 10/20/30 rule:
- Contain no more than 10 slides
- Last no more than 20 minutes
- Use a font size of no less than 30 points
Use photos or pictures that enhance meaning
Photos or pictures can help the audience connect with your ideas. They can be a metaphor or something more literal, but should be clear why the audience is looking at it. The best option is to use a strong image to support and make the connection with what are you saying.
A great source of photos for use in presentations are Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license websites like www.pexels.com. A CC0 license means the pictures are completely free to be used for any legal purpose.
Go easy with the effects and transitions
PowerPoint is full of effects and transitions, be careful with how you use them. Most of them can be more distracting than helpful during a presentation. Keep it simple is the best advice. If you are going to use, choose the subtlest ones.
For video, don’t use the autoplay
Always set the video to click to play, which allows you to keep the control of the presentation in accordance with your pace. It is common to see presentations that the video is set to autoplay, but when you advance the deck to the slide with the video, sometimes can take a moment for the computer process and finally start to play. So often, the presenter clicks again to play the video and instead of play goes to the next slide.
Reproduce simple charts and graphs
If you have time enough you can redraw graphs in the native presentation instead of import from excel, just to make your presentation feel consistent and thought through. If the figures are simple, this is a way to make it easier on the eyes.
You may be interested in these courses
Here at New Horizons Ireland, you can learn all the features to do great PowerPoint and Prezi presentations.
Sales and Presentation Skills
Microsoft PowerPoint 2016
Microsoft PowerPoint 2013
- Our Prezi training brings you through all the functions and how to best utilise them to make dynamic and engaging presentations.
Read more about our Presentation courses