Creating a PowerPoint presentation requires skill, knowledge and creativity. Here are five tips to help you create an engaging and fun PowerPoint presentation.
Share a story.
All PowerPoint presentations should tell a narrative which includes a beginning, middle and end part. The initial part of the presentation should give a brief introduction of the problem. Try to ask yourself the question—“What are the things that you want to solve today?” Key findings should be presented in the middle portion of the presentation, but these facts should tie back to the main issue that you want to solve. By the end of the presentation, the audience should feel they have learned something and have a good understanding of the solution.
Always remember, less is more.
More often than not, people have this tendency to over-complicate a simple presentation with quirky transitions, too much text or flashy images. Some of these features are unnecessary. Try to make each slide free of clutter, using only a single image to sell an idea.
Branding is the ultimate key.
Create a PowerPoint presentation that will reinforce your brand image. Use the same fonts, logos, and color schemes that you use for the business. Treat a presentation like a marketing or advertising campaign. Don’t skimp.
Take a break.
Based on a research conducted by the University of Tennessee, the average adult’s attention span lasts for 20 minutes. It is best to keep your presentation brief and straight to the point. If you think you’ll use more than 20 minutes, give the audience a minute or two to relax. Steve Jobs often allotted a blank slide as a way for the audience to maintain their focus.
Practice and practice some more.
A wonderful presentation comes down to its speaker’s ability to capture the audience’s attention and keep them focussed on the topic. The best speakers are the one who don’t stare at their notes and don’t read scripts. Try to focus on the main points and let handouts outline the rest. Brilliant speakers don’t convey information; they sell ideas.
Mark Twain said, “There are two types of public speakers: those who are afraid and those who are liars.” For anyone who fits into one of those two groups, how do you overcome the fear and become better speaker?
You’re not going to eliminate the fear of public speaking, but you can learn to get past it. Here are 6 basic steps all successful public speakers have mastered:
It’s not just the Boy Scout motto. If you really want your confidence to sky rocket, be totally and thoroughly prepared. The more prepared you are to give a talk, the more confident you become. Prepare by writing out your presentation, at the every least have an outline and rehearse it more than once. At the very least, practice your stories and be sure to have stories every time you present. Try to memorize your opening, your stories, and your closing.
Preparation means not only knowing your subject, but knowing your audience and what they need to hear. Evaluating your audience is a critical but frequently overlooked aspect of presentation preparation. When you you understand your audience and their expectations, you can tailor your presentation content, language, and style to communicate effectively. That will make you more confident that the material you are presenting is appropriate and useful to the audience.
Expect the Best
Unless your speaking in a prison, you’re not talking to a captive audience. If they didn’t want to hear what you had to say, they wouldn’t be there. Take courage from the fact that you have been asked to speak because the organizers feel you have something to say to their group.
Use Your Nervous Energy
The trick is not to get rid of the fear, but to harness and control it. Your fear is energy and you can channel that energy into your speech.
Before standing up to give a presentation, it is a good idea to try to release some of this pent up tension through a simple, unobtrusive isometric exercise. Starting with your toes and calf muscles, tighten your muscles up through your body finally making a fist. Immediately release all of the tension and take a deep breath. Repeat this exercise until you feel the tension start to drain away.
Get Out in Front
Don’t hide behind your material. When we are nervous we tend to read our speeches, focus on the Powerpoint notes and hang on to the lectern for dear life. The audience wants to connect with you. Get our from behind the lectern. The movement will help release your tension and will draw the audience into the presentation.
This is another area where your preparation comes into play. Set aside your materials and communicate a bigger story than data or facts can provide.
Don’t stare at your notes or the back wall. Connect to your audience as individuals. Look into peoples’ eyes as you speak. Make your presentation personal. Eye contact can help you relax and judge audience reaction to your presentation.
See Your Success
Don’t focus on what could go wrong. Replace that image with one of you successfully delivering your presentation. If you are using props, handouts and technology, prepare a back-up plan for anything that could go wrong.
- Know how you will proceed if the projector breaks down.
- Decide how you’ll interacted with the audience if they seem to be losing attention.
- Be prepared to answer tough questions after your presentation.
Visualize a successful outcome. It is not the mistake the audience will remember, but the way you handled it.
Experience, Experience, Experience
An important factor to success as a public speaker is to speak. You can’t buy confidence on eBay. Confidence comes with experience. Get out there and speak. Building successes will lead to new public speaking challenges. You’ll be amazed at the reaction of others to your ideas, authority and leadership, when you begin speaking in public.
You would think in this day and age of Garr Reynold and Presentation Zen, Seth Godin and Really Bad PowerPoint or Cliff Atkinson and Beyond Bullet Points, there would be no excuse for poor quality PowerPoint presentations. Unfortunately, people continue to churn out ineffective presentations.
Here are some links and resources for improving presentations:
Joseph Sommerville provides a list of common presentation sins.
- Slide Transitions And Sound Effects
- Standard Clipart
- Presentation Templates
- Text-Heavy Slides
- The “Me” Paradigm
- Faith in Technology
The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint by Guy Kawasaki
Nine Steps to PowerPoint Magic by Seth Godin
How to Prevent PowerPoint overload by Cliff Atkinson
Presentation Tips from Garr Reynolds
There’s no excuse for bad PowerPoint. There are lots of resources available to help you create a presentation that will communcate effectively.
It’s easy to compound our innate fear of public speaking by delivering a really bad presentation. There’s nothing worse than fighting the nervous butterflies in your stomach and seeing the glazed-eyes look of your audience as you slowly bore them to tears.
Neil Patel has posted 10 Tips for a Killer Presentation. My three favourites:
- Don’t abuse your visuals – Usually your visuals are posters, charts, or even a PowerPoint presentation. Whatever your visuals may be, keep them simple and don’t put too many words on them. The audience isn’t there to read your slides, they are there to listen to you present.
- Make them laugh – Although you want to educate your audience, you need to make them laugh as well. I learned this from Guy Kawasaki and if you ever hear any of his speeches you’ll understand why. In essence, it keeps the audience alert and they’ll learn more from you than someone who just educates.
- Talk to your audience, not at them – People hate it when they get talked at, so don’t do it. You need to interact with your audience and create a conversation. An easy way to do this is to ask them questions as well as letting them ask you questions.
I have one more tip that I’ve had to learn the hard way: Tell stories – People don’t want to sit through a dry recitation of facts, statistics, policy, etc. They want to hear how what you have to say plays out in real life. Learn to tell stories.