The success of your presentation is mostly determined before you ever stand up to address your audience, and your spoken words are often more important than your PowerPoint.
Yes, your audience will look at your slides, but you should be the driving force of the meeting and your slides are simply reinforcement.
Nevertheless, there is a certain skill to creating a slideshow…
- Define the goal of the presentation – what you want the audience to understand and act on once you have finished.
- Understand the audience’s knowledge of you, as well as their roles in the organisation so that you can present to them more effectively.
- Open with your goal statement so that your audience are fully aware of the reason for the presentation.
- Consider the order of your slides – you want your speech to flow, rather than be disjointed as you talk about something unrelated to the projected slide.
- Paragraphs of text are difficult to read and most of the time your audience won’t even bother because it looks like a chore. Keep slides brief and elaborate on them verbally.
- The final slide is important to conclude the presentation; it’s not always wise to have your last slide as “Questions???” as this does not necessarily move your audience towards your goal. Instead, try “The Next Steps…” so that you can lead them into discussion.
Audiences don’t want you to read slides of block text to them – we all know it’s the most annoying thing in the world – so use visuals (e.g. graphs, diagrams, pictures, videos or other media clips) to mix it up and make it interesting.
Colours & Fonts
- Decide on one simple look for the presentation in order to stay consistent.
- Select background and text colours that contrast enough to make it easy to read.
- Use easy to read fonts, too. Sans-serif, like Arial or Calibri, is easier to read when projected so these may be the best choices.
- Recommended font sizes are between 24-32, but it depends on the size of the screen and the size of the room – and the eyesight of your audience.
You must rehearse your presentation by standing and delivering it as if it was really go-time. This is the only way to check your words, your visuals and whether the message is as clear as you want it to be. It’s also the only way to truly check your timing to make sure you don’t run over.
Limit your use of jargon if you aren’t sure how in-the-know your audience is.
Take a breath between slides so you don’t start motoring along.
Try not to look at your own presentation – face the audience as you speak and make eye contact.
Have print-outs or a full plan available if your audience needs more details.