An outstanding PowerPoint slideshow has the potential to boost a presentation, making it not only effective and engaging, but also inspiring. With a few basic steps, anyone can create an outstanding PowerPoint presentation that is both professional and fun for your audience.
It’s important to understand the purpose of a PowerPoint presentation before you begin. Think of your slideshow as your own personal support system. It should provide backing and give strength to your speaking presentation, reinforcing your key points and goals. An effective slideshow should not present all of your material for you or act as your speaking notes. An effective slideshow is simply the exclamation point at the end of what you have already said.
For this reason, you should never put a PowerPoint slideshow together before planning your presentation from start to finish. Once you have firmly established what you are going to say, you can then start to create a slideshow that will support your key points. This will ensure the slides support your message rather than speak for you.
Keep It Simple
Of all the advice out there about PowerPoint presentations, this is probably the most important – keep it simple! This applies to your design as well as your content. Stay away from hard to read fonts, overly colorful templates, cluttered designs, and lengthy paragraphs. Remember, your slideshow is your support system, not the main act. If a slide’s message isn’t clear within a few seconds of viewing it, it probably needs to be simplified or removed. Here are a few ideas to keep it simple:
- Stay consistent– stick with a basic set of colors and fonts throughout your entire slideshow
- Avoid paragraphs – short phrases, one word, or even no words at all (just an image) work best. Remember, your audience’s concentration isn’t on you if they are reading your slides.
- Use transitions sparingly – animated transitions such as fade, wipe, and dissolve can become distracting and tacky if overused. If you choose to incorporate transitions, use them sparingly.
- One point per slide – your slides are not your speaking notes. Keep your message clear by focusing on one, key point for each slide.
- Don’t skip ahead – only provide information you have just covered or are about to cover. This keeps your message immediate and your audience focused.
- Be your audience – step in your audience’s shoes and try to view your slides from their perspective. Are they clear? Are they in a logical order? Are they interesting and relevant to your presentation?
Be a Passionate Storyteller
Ultimately the goal of any presentation is to hold your audience’s attention and effectively pass on information. The best way to achieve this is to not only be passionate about your subject matter, but to present your information in a dynamic way – by telling a story.
Stories hold our attention, especially when they come from a passionate storyteller, and we remember stories long after they are told. Why? Because we can connect to stories and relate to them, often on a personal level. A story will always be more effective and motivating than bullet points with facts and figures.
Find a way to connect to your audience. Give them details that will mean something to them. Instead of a chart that shows sales revenues increased by 10% over the last quarter, share a picture and story of a family who received assistance through the company’s recent donation to a relief fund, which was made possible by employee efforts that boosted company sales 10% over the last quarter.
Every slide should in some way contribute to your story and connect with your audience. If a slide isn’t contributing in some way, it probably isn’t necessary. Remember too, you don’t always have to use words to tell a story. A powerful image can be just as effective!
Be Creative and Break the Rules
Every slide in your PowerPoint presentation is important because every slide is an opportunity to connect to your audience and inspire them – it’s the difference between keeping their full attention and losing them to complete boredom. When you create a slide, think of it like a magazine cover. Use professional images, evocative headlines, and an organized, strong format to engage your audience with a clear, dynamic message.
Familiarize yourself with PowerPoint and understand how it works before you begin. This will allow you to create your own backgrounds and templates without relying on the program’s cookie cutter designs that your audience has probably seen one too many times.
Finally, don’t be afraid to break the rules. After all, that’s what creativity is all about! Many PowerPoint guides will tell you there is a right and wrong way to create a presentation, but ultimately what matters is that the slideshow works in your favor. If you can keep your audience’s attention with nothing but pictures – than go for it! If bullet points keep your slides organized, stick to bullet points! Understand the rules, then don’t be afraid to break them when you have a good reason to do so.
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