PowerPoint is the number one tool for creating and showing presentations. It’s intuitive, professional and easy to use, and therefore no surprise that business people, speakers, professors and students around the globe pick PowerPoint as their standard tool. On the other hand, many also associate the words “PowerPoint Presentations” with boredom, crowded slides, lack of creativity and endless talks. Why? Speaker often forget that not the PowerPoint presentation but the speaker himself should be in the center of attention. Who hides behind his slides and reads out his entire text from a slide will unavoidably fail with his presentation – no matter how interesting the content.
Here are five guidelines to avoid common mistakes and make your presentations better:
1. Design your slides
PowerPoint has plenty of templates and designs that are usually better and less complicated than own design creations – but resist just picking any of the premade designs! Any viewer and especially those often working with PowerPoint will immediately spot if you are using a Microsoft template, and assume you lacked the effort to properly design your presentation. Furthermore, many companies nowadays use a corporate design with predefined layouts and color-sets. In case your company uses corporate design slides, always make sure you use them according to the design standards, and your presentation will seem much more professional. Like that you can promote the company brand at the same time. In case there is no PowerPoint template for your company yet, just create your own one by editing the slide master. For example, you can include the company logo and chose a maximum of three colors. The more professional the PowerPoint slide deck needs to be, the better it is to ask a designer to have a look on your slide design. If this is to expensive for you, try to come up with a simple and nice design yourself. Simplicity became modern again. At the point where you think that your slide deck is finished, start again looking on the layout and reduce unnecessary distractions. A clear design will be beneficial for your readers to understand the content.
2. Pick the right font
First things first: Your text must be readable for the audience, even for those in the last row. You’re always on the safe side if you pick a font size of around 30-40 pt. Just to be sure, you can also quickly test the readability of your slides it in the event location. Concerning the font type, do not become overly creative: a serious and neutral font will always have a more professional look. Standard choices include Times New Roman, Calibri and Arial, among others. Do not work with more than three different fonts in the same presentation, otherwise your presentation loses clarity and consistency. Apart from that, you should rely on normal upper and lower case text, rather than typing in caps lock – a look that is often associated with shouting. Make sure to choose background and font colors that match: often, the combination of dark and light colors is the best to read. Unless it’s part of the Corporate identity, better stay away from gaudy colors that could distract the audience. Often there is not enough place for bigger font sizes. If this challenge comes up to you, you either split the content of the slide on thwo pages or you try to reduce unnecessary content. Again, you should try to make it as simple as possible for your readers to understand your slides. The less text and the more beautiful the fonts look, the better willl your viewers' feedback be.
3. Build a clear structure
One of the most common mistakes for presentations is putting too much information on one slide. It’s one of the golden rules of presenting: if a slide contains too much text, no one even starts reading it. This makes it hard for listeners to follow your presentation, and tempting for the presenter to read the slide text out loudly. But if you only include keywords and the most important information on a slide, it suddenly becomes an important tool for the audience to understand and remember your content better. Just keep this simple rule in mind: don’t put more than six lines of text on one slide, and use a maximum of six words per line.
4. Effects and pictures
Please, do yourself a favor and never use sound effects in your PowerPoint presentations. No matter if it’s a bell, a plop or an explosion sound – each of them is somewhere between unprofessional and ridiculous. Our advice: just forget about sounds in presentations, and be careful with animations. Go without flying slides and other animations between slides: Every multimedia effect distracts the audience, so be careful with having slide elements appear or disappear during your presentation. Effects have been fancy some years ago, but nowadays everybody has seen them and prefers to get structured information instead of ridiculous effects. If you decide to leave out the animations, your presentation will look much more sophisticated. In case that you think that your slideshow is borign - try to make the content exciting! Some animcations are not really helpful for making presentations better. PowerPoint is a great help for delivering information, but the story line has to be the strong element in your pitch.
Pictures are a common thing to use in PowerPoint Presentations, and this is how you use them better: Include pictures that are really relevant to your topic and that fulfill quality and size requirements so they look good on the big screen. You can either use your own pictures or purchase photos and graphics from other providers – but make sure you have the license to use them! In case that you don't know where to get them: there are basically two options. You could either buy them from websites such as iStock, or you could search for pictures which ban be used for free on platforms like Unsplash. Sometimes it is worth to spend money on nice pictures, especially if you use them more often or if they should become an important element of your branding strategy. The pictures of free websites are mostly as beautiful as the piad ones - but used on a more frequent basis. If somebody has seen the picture which you use in ten other blogs, he maybe don't take your presentation serious anymore. In any case it is important to take time looking for pictures which fit the content of your presentation. A perfect picture has to be catchy to get the attention of the readers but simultaneously reflects the content of the slide.
5. Share your PowerPoint presentation
Congrats, you learned how to design a great PowerPoint presentation. Now keep eye contact, be confident and passionate about what you have to say and deliver your arguments! We don’t want to discourage you, but no matter how well it went, it is a given that every participant had a moment when he did not pay attention. Just a few days after people will forget the important details about your presentation. But no worries, there is an easy solution to this: Just share your presentation slides during and after the presentation with the online presentation sharing tool Beamium! During the presentation, viewers can follow slide by slide from their own devices or go back to previously presented slides. By using more senses for the same information processing task, they will remember your talk in more depth. And back home, each participant using Beamium can review or download the presentation as PDF. To put it simply: Beamium is the perfect tool for you to remain longer in the minds of your audience!
Sharing slides with Beamium has several advantages compared to traditional, old-fashioned ways of sharing documents such as using emails:
- Smart analytics help you to track the success of the presentation.
- Leads can be captured with a dedicated form.
- An optional live-feature makes it possible to share slides in real-time.
- Interactive elements foster engagement during and after the presentation.
Image Source: ©unsplash.com/@taduuda