PowerPoint is one of those things that if done well will simply melt into the back of a viewers brain, but when done poorly will highlight every flaw in a presentation and result in an extremely negative reaction from customers, or superiors. Following a few simple steps can eliminate some of the anxiety and fear surrounding a major presentation.
1. Find a simple theme that matches the basic idea of the presentation.
Dogs are cute and all, but a canine based PP theme does not add a lot to a presentation about outsourcing resource allocation or maximizing web exposure. Stick to something that is soothing on the eyes and that matches what you are talking about.
2. Use a Cover Slide.
Don’t assume that anything is clear or obvious. Using a cover slide will ensure that everyone knows exactly what you are going to be talking about before you begin the presentation.
3. Don’t Read information.
People have a tendency to list as much information as they possibly can into a PP and then simply sit their and recite the information. Guess what? The people in your presentation can read too. Avoid this mistake by creating bullet points and going into further detail based on memory. The purpose of the PP is to accentuate your verbal presentation, not to act as a technological crutch.
4. Use graphics sparingly and appropriately.
Photoshopped images of your bosses’ head on a dogs body are not ever appropriate for a business presentation. People have a tendency to forgot the magnitude of their audience and do inappropriate things when it comes to a PP. Graphics, if used to often, will detract from what you are saying.
5. Animation keeps peoples attention.
As long as you remember tip 4, animation during your presentation can jump-start waning focus and redirect wandering attention. No one can sit in a chair for three hours and maintain absolute focus; graphics bring people back on topic. This segues to number six.
6. Short and Sweet.
The average person can focus on one thing for twenty minutes before they begin to lose interest and processing capability. I know you think that everything you have to talk about is the absolute most important, but sometimes it helps to review what matters before you start creating your presentation. Stop trying to micromanage every aspect of your job or company, and focus on the highlights. Your coworkers will thank you.