Most PowerPoint presentations leave a lot to be desired.
Too often they are confusing (“what do you mean?”), pointless (“what do you want me to do?”), and/or boring (“who cares?”).
Good planning will improve most PowerPoint presentations.
- Limit the scope of your presentation.
Focused presentations are good. Focused, short presentations are better.
- Know your audience.
What do they already know and feel about your topic? What do you want them to know and feel about it?
- Determine your presentation’s objective.
What do you want the audience to do as a result of listening to you?
- Organize your material in a clear and logical fashion.
After a brief introduction, develop three main points that clarify what you’re talking about, why it matters, and how it works.
Designing good PowerPoint slides will improve your presentation.
- Use fewer slides.
Only use slides that will help your audience understand the point you’re making. Never use slides as your script.
- Don’t rely on PowerPoint templates or graphics.
They are amateurish. (Microsoft should be embarrassed by how tacky most of their design elements are.)
- Make them legible.
My least favorite line from a presenter is, “You probably can’t read this, but…”
Rehearing your presentation will also improve your presentation.
You don’t need to be highly polished or theatrical. But you do need to sound coherent, as if you’ve thought about what you’re going to say. And you need to sound interested in what you’re saying. So practice your presentation out loud at least once before you stand in front of an audience.
The Fastest, Easiest Way to Improve any PowerPoint Presentation is to Engage your Audience’s Participation.
Passive audiences are less likely to invest in your presentation, less likely to give you the benefit of the doubt, less likely to care about or to adopt what you’re proposing.
Do not keep your audience passive. Do not make them sit quietly while you talk on and on. Do not talk for 40 minutes and give them 5 minutes at the end to ask questions.
The Best Way to Engage your Audience’s Participation Is to Encourage Discussion and Q&A.
Present a little, discuss a little. Present a little more, answer your audiences’ questions. Talk a little, listen a little, add to what you’ve said.
The Easiest Way to Encourage Discussion and Q&A Is to Black Out the Screen Periodically.
When you’re in presentation mode while using PowerPoint, simply tap the “B” key. Magically, the screen goes black. Tap any other key and your presentation comes back exactly where you left off.
Blacking out the screen is a non-verbal way of telling your audience that the presentation isn’t “up there” on the screen. The presentation is happening between you, the speaker, and them. It’s a way of saying, “let’s talk.”
(If you tap the “W” key, the screen goes white.)
Check out Making the Most of Q&A.