PowerPoint presentations represent a paradox. A truly excellent PowerPoint slideshow should not be the memorable aspect of the presentation. Rather, it should make the message memorable. On the other hand, a truly terrible PowerPoint presentation will be remembered, while the intended message is forgotten altogether.
The same tools and techniques required to develop strong marketing campaigns make for good PowerPoint slide shows: appropriate branding, strong design, well-placed visuals, concise content and impeccable proofreading. It is also important to maintain a laser-like focus. Guy Kawasaki, noted venture capitalist, suggests a minimalist approach for effective PowerPoint presentations. “It’s quite simple,” Kawasaki wrote on his blog, How to Change the World. “A PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.”
If the presentation contains an error such as a broken link, inconsistent font or unreadable text, then the audience will notice. The presenter may be the world’s leading expert on the subject matter, yet a critical problem with a slide will detract from the message. However, a clean, concise PowerPoint presentation will support the message and make it unforgettable. Here are 9 tips to keep a PowerPoint presentation on track and prevent it from distracting the audience.
Keep the Style Clean
The human eye finds brilliant, over-the-top visual movement distracting. Keep animation to a minimum, or eliminate it altogether. In addition, keep backgrounds neutral without extra graphics.
Reconsider Using Auto-options
Microsoft designed the PowerPoint program to offer many preset options. While this can simplify slide setup, take a visual step back and consider whether the preset aspects work with the presentation. PowerPoint makes bullet points automatic, yet this might not be the best option for the content. In addition, some presets include shadows on every shape. Other fonts – rather than the defaults, Cambria and Calibri – might integrate more easily with the overall presentation.
Embed the Font Files
By embedding the font files, the font remains consistent throughout the presentation. Changing fonts across a presentation is distracting. Rather than using default fonts found in Powerpoint, try using your own for a better looking presentation. Smashing Magazine has a list of sources for quality fonts that you can download for free.
Save Slides as JPEGs
This is crucial if the presentation may be shown on different computers. The way to avoid this is to save the final presentation as a JPEG, then insert the JPEGs into the slideshow. This might take an extra step or two, but the presentation will be cleaner and less prone to varying font styles. In addition, it will make the file size larger, so adequate storage space is necessary.
PowerPoint offers the option to link to video and audio files or embed the media into the slides. Embedding the media gives the presenter the ability to play the media within the presentation without switching back and forth between different windows.
Use the Presenter View
PowerPoint has the presenter’s screen and the projected display of the slideshow. However, it also has the Presenter View in the slide show tab, which includes a timer/clock, notes and the presentation display. This gives the speaker additional tools on the screen rather than a stack of paper notes or a potentially distracting stopwatch during the presentation.
Use the Format Menus
The format menus enable the creator of the slideshow to perform finer adjustments such as alter shadows, create reflections, adjust shape dimensions, aspect ratios and more.
Utilize PowerPoint Shapes
PowerPoint shapes have become very flexible and professional in display. This includes the highly adaptable Smart Shapes function, which creates flow charts and diagrams quickly and easily. In today’s world of social media, tablets and smartphones, visual graphics have become the more professional and effective way to convey a message rather than bullet points or text. Carmine Gallo on Forbes.com suggests keeping all data visual for effectiveness.
Present Webpages in the Slide
As with multimedia, rather than linking to a website in the slide and jumping between windows, embed the page in the slide for cleaner integration. Third-party software such as LiveWeb offers an easy way to do this.
By focusing on design, style and presentation, a PowerPoint presentation will support the message rather than detract from it. PowerPoint is a powerful tool for creating impressive presentations and supporting delivery of the content in ways that the audience will find memorable.