Guest Article: 10 (Easy) tips towards a more effective PowerPoint presentation
As a student at CBS you are exposed to several PowerPoint-shows weekly and there is nothing like a bad constructed presentation to kill motivation and focus in an instant.
How do we know?
At Proximo, we are both CBS graduates who have witnessed the worst (and best) PowerPoint has to offer.
Fortunately, you are about to learn 10 easy tips to transform your dull, boring PowerPoint presentation into something that’s actually worth paying attention to (feel free to pass this guide on to a teacher too).
In this guide to PowerPoint, we’ve boiled down our expertise to 10 simple guidelines that you can follow in order to create a better and more interesting presentation.
Tip 1: KISS
No! Not in the sense that you should kiss your presentation. KISS is an abbreviation for “Keep it simple, stupid”.
This is especially true for PowerPoint presentations. People often tend to over-complicate their slides. This is NOT the way to go.
Force yourself to boil down each slide to its absolute minimum. This ensures focus on you and your speech, rather than an over-complicated presentation. At its core, people are there to listen to you and your message – not to be impressed by your PowerPoint.
- White space is good, not bad.
- Try not to fill your presentation with unnecessary elements like logo, different colors or objects.
- Less clutter = more powerful presentation.
Tip 2: Bullets and text
Most of your slides will obviously contain text. However, it should not contain the exact words you are planning to say. Chances are you have encountered this kind of presentation before? You know where the speaker basically reads directly off from the PowerPoint? It sucks!
- Treat the text on your slides as a way to improve your oral presentation. It should not be the other way around.
Tip 3: Don’t make people dizzy!
Some people have learned to insert animations each time the change slide. While animations can be great, they truly can be quite annoying too and are easily overdone.
If you are to use slide transitions, preferably go with the same slide transition – or limit it to 2 different – every time and pick a simple one like “Wipe” (found in the “Transitions” tab). This animation will suffice 99% of the time. After you’ve clicked the “Wipe”, click the button “Effect Options” and pick “Smoothly From Left”.
Tip: You can just insert a transition on every third slide, as this will often do and not drag out the presentation unnecessarily.
Tip 4: Use great graphics or leave it out
Including graphics in your presentation is often a great idea. A picture is worth a 1000 words, right?
You shouldn’t just pick ANY graphic or picture. Try to find graphics in high resolution that are clear and do not cause distraction.
Even though PowerPoint comes with a lot of different ClipArt ,this will often look and feel outdated. Instead find new, fresh pictures by using Google (mind the copyright) or by using paid services. This doesn’t have to be that expensive. Take a look at Iconfinder (a Danish startup), where you can get awesome graphics very inexpensively.
Tip 5: Get stylish
While you are probably more concerned about your oral presentation being good, don’t do yourself the disservice of having an overly boring presentation. You don’t need to be a designer to create a rather beautiful presentation.
Go to the “Design” tab in PowerPoint and browse through its different designs. Personally, I like the “Retro” theme included in PowerPoint.
Tip 6: Visualize your data
PowerPoint is equipped with easy tools to visualize your data. From pie charts to line charts, PowerPoint has you covered.
Picking how to visualize your data can be quite the task. Below is a list of what chart to use in different situations.
- Pie charts: Perfect when displaying different percentages, ratios etc.
- Vertical bar charts: You see these on the news all the time. Great at explaining data over time.
- Horizontal bar charts: Used when comparing quantities, such as demographic data.
- Line charts: Often used in the news too, this can be used to visualize trends.
Tip 7: Using colors
While we already talked about picking a nice, sleek theme for your presentation, I would also like to give you a few pointers as to what colors to pick when presenting in a well-lit room (and vice versa).
If you are going to present in a dark room: Have a dark background (dark blue often works well) with white or light grey text.
Often times you will be presenting in a well lit room.
For lighter rooms: Go with a white background with black/dark text.
You probably already knew this, but it can really make or break the audience’s ability to read your slides.
Tip 8: Picking the right font
The first rule of fonts is that it should be the same on all slides.
Using a different font for headlines is fine (no rules without exceptions, right?) however try to keep the font choices at a minimum.
Sans-serif fonts are the best fonts to use, as these are much clearer on a large screen.
If in doubt, go with the font “Gill Sans” (which is already included in PowerPoint).
Tip 9: Use video or audio
Got a short clip to show during your presentation (or even audio)? Hey, that’s awesome!
Do make sure to embed the video/sound in your presentation properly, so that you are not leaving the presentation. Too many times have I witnessed the presenter navigating back and forth between YouTube and PowerPoint, ultimately breaking the audience’s attention and focus.
Depending on the source of the multimedia, any offline media can easily be embedded in PowerPoint via “Insert” and then either “Video” or “Audio” in the “Media” group. Looking to embed a YouTube video? This guide has you covered.
Tip 10: Break it up
Not surprisingly, people comprehend information much better when presented with small chunks at a time.
Way too many people ignore this common-sense advice though.
Before giving your presentation, be sure to take a look at it in “Slide Sorter” found in the “View” tab. There you will get a much better feeling of the content and scope of your presentation and easily be able to re-organize the slider order. Here, troublesome slides containing too much information is often revealed, making you able to construct a much better overall presentation.
Alright, so you are now on your way towards a more interesting presentation!
Got a question? Or better yet, a tip that we haven’t covered? Then share it in the comment below.