Presentations, whether made with PowerPoint10 Tips for Making Better PowerPoint Presentations with Office 201610 Tips for Making Better PowerPoint Presentations with Office 2016Microsoft PowerPoint continues to set new standards. New features in PowerPoint 2016 manifest its top spot as the best option for smart and creative presentations.Read More or another tool, are a great way to support a talk, visualize complicated circumstances or focus attention on the subject.
Meanwhile, a foul presentation can achieve the opposite. Poorly designed slides with walls of text or oversized blurry graphics can distract or irritate your audience. Sometimes, PowerPoint is just the wrong tool7 Free PowerPoint Alternatives for All Your Presentation Needs7 Free PowerPoint Alternatives for All Your Presentation NeedsMicrosoft PowerPoint is a fantastic tool, but you might need a free alternative. We have compiled the best presentation tools, just keep in mind that none of them are as good as the original.Read More to make an impact.
Here’s is a small guide that will help you create presentations with a professional look and concise content, avoiding the most common mistakes.
The first thing that gives a professional touch to any presentation is the design. It’s the first thing your audience will see and it can leave a lasting impression, for better or worse.
1. Carefully Compose Your Slides
Don’t copy & paste slides from different sources. You don’t want your presentation to look like a rag rug. What you’re aiming for is a consistent look. This will help your audience focus on the essential; your speech and the key facts you’re highlighting on your slides.
To that end, use a basic template or make your own. PowerPoint comes with a selection of presentation templates7 Places Where You Can Find Beautiful Presentation Templates Fast7 Places Where You Can Find Beautiful Presentation Templates FastYour search for last minute presentation templates comes to an end with these online resources. These template websites cover both PowerPoint and Google Slides.Read More, but you can also find free ones online.
Pick an easy to read font face. It’s hard to get this right. Unless you’re a designer, stick to a single font face and limit yourself to playing with safe colors and font sizes.
If you’re unsure about fonts, refer to The 10 Commandments of Typography shown above for orientation.
Carefully select font sizes for headers and text. On the one hand, you don’t want to create a wall of text9 PowerPoint Mistakes to Avoid for Perfect Presentations9 PowerPoint Mistakes to Avoid for Perfect PresentationsIt's easy to screw up your PowerPoint presentation. Let's take a look at mistakes you probably make when presenting your slideshow, and how to correct them.Read More and lose your audience’s attention. On the other, you do want your audience to be able to read the text that you consider key. So make your fonts large enough.
Leave room for highlights, such as images or take home messages. Some elements should stand out. So try not to bury them in background noise, but give them the space they need. This could be a single quote or a single image per page with nothing but a simple header and a plan background.
Decorate scarcely but well. If you have good content, you won’t need decoration. Your template will be decoratively enough.
Restrict the room your design takes up and don’t ever let the design restrict your message.
2. Use Consistency
Consistently use font face and sizes on all slides. This one goes back to using a template. If you chose a professional template, the designer will have taken care of this aspect. Stick to it!
Match colors. This is where so many presentations fail. You might have chosen a funky template and stuck to the designer’s color profile, then you ruin it all with ugly Excel charts9 Tips for Formatting an Excel Chart in Microsoft Office9 Tips for Formatting an Excel Chart in Microsoft OfficeFirst impressions matter. Don't let an ugly Excel chart scare off your audience. Here's everything you need to know about making your charts attractive and engaging in Excel 2016.Read More.
Take the time to match your visuals to your presentation design.
You can use your company logo, highlight headers, create a special frame for figures or images or the whole slide, but don’t overload your slides with these elements.
A poor choice of colors can ruin a presentation.
3. Use Contrast
Black text on a white background will always be the best, but also the most boring choice. You’re allowed to use colors! But use them responsibly.
Keep it easy on the eyes and always keep good contrast in mind. If you’re color-challenged, use one of the many online tools to select a good looking color paletteHow To Pick A Color Scheme Like A ProHow To Pick A Color Scheme Like A ProColors are tricky. It might seem easy enough to pick a handful of colors that look good together, but as any designer who has spent hours tweaking shades will tell you: it's tricky.Read More. Or just use a template.
4. Apply Brilliance
Carefully use color to highlight your message! Colors are your friends. They can make numbers stand out or your Take Home Message pop.
Don’t weaken the color effect by using too many colors in too many instances. The special effect only works, however, if used scarcely. Try to limit pop colors to one per slide.
Make a brilliant choice: match colors for design and good contrast to highlight your message.Use a professional color palette, to find which color will work best with your theme.
Use The 10 Commandments of Color Theory shown above to learn more about colors.
Keep It Straight and Simple. That means…
Keywords only on your slides.
Absolutely no full sentences!
And never read your slides, talk freely.
Remember that your slides are only there to support, not to replace your talk! You want to tell a story, describe your data or explain circumstances, and only give keys through your slides. If you read your slides and if you do it poorly, the audience will feel ashamed for you. Worse, they’ll stop listening and dive into their smartphones instead.
6. Take Home Message
Always summarize your key point in a Take Home Message. Ask yourself, if your audience should learn or remember one single thing from your presentation, what would it be? That’s your Take Home Message.
The Take Home Message is your key message, a summary of your data or story. If you’re giving an hour long presentation, you might actually have several Take Home Messages. That’s OK. Just make sure that what you think is key, really matters to your audience.
Make your Take Home Message memorable. It’s your responsibility that your audience takes home something valuable. Help them “get it” by making your Take Home Message stand out, either visually or through how you frame it verbally.
Images are key elements of every presentation. Your audience has ears and eyes, they want to see what you’re talking about, and a good visual cue will help them understand your message much better.
7. Add Images
Have more images in your slides than text. Visuals are your friends. They can illustrate your points and support your message.
But do not use images to decorate! That’s a poor use of visuals because it’s just a distraction.
Images can reinforce or complement your message. So use images to visualize or explain your story.
Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words. In other words, if you don’t have time for a thousand words, use a picture!
Animations & Media
In animations, there is a fine line between a comic and a professional impression. But animations can be powerful tools to visualize and explain complicated matters. A good animation can not only improve understanding, it can also make the message stick with your audience.
8. Don’t Be Silly
Sparingly use animations and media. You should really only use them in one of two cases:
- To draw attention, for example to your Take Home Message.
Or to clarify a model or emphasize and effect.
Embed the media in your presentationHow to Embed a YouTube Video & Other Media in Your PowerPoint PresentationHow to Embed a YouTube Video & Other Media in Your PowerPoint PresentationTypical presentations are dull affairs with text and corporate backgrounds providing little of interest. Media files can lighten up the experience. We show you how to embed even videos.Read More and make sure it works in presentation mode, else you’ll look foolish.
Target & Content
Your target, i.e. your audience, defines the content of your presentation. For example, you cannot teach school kids about the complicated matters of economy, but you may be able to explain to them what economy is in the first place and why it is important.
9. Keep Your Audience In Mind
When you compile your presentation, ask yourself these questions:
- What does my audience know?
- What do I need to tell them?
- What do they expect?
- What will be interesting to them?
- What can I teach them?
- What will keep them focused?
Answer these questions and boil your slides down to the very essentials. In your talk, describe the essentials colorfullyImprove Your PowerPoint Presentation with Excel Data VisualizationsImprove Your PowerPoint Presentation with Excel Data VisualizationsNothing makes information more vivid than a great visualization. We show you how to prepare your data in Excel and import the charts into PowerPoint for a lively presentation.Read More and use your weapons, i.e. text, images, and animations wisely (see above).
If you fail to hit the target, it won’t matter how ingenious your design is or how brilliantly you picked colors and keywords. If you lose the attention of your audience, everything is lost.
A well practiced and enthusiastic talk will help you convince your audience and keep their attention. Here are some key points that define a good talk:
- Know your slides inside out.
- Speak freely.
- Speak with confidence – loud and clear.
- Don’t speak too fast.
- Keep eye contact with your audience.
One Final Trick
I’ve shown you how to think through your entire presentation, from choosing a design to speaking to your audience. Here’s a mind trick: never try to interpret the looks on your listeners’ faces. Just assume they’re focused and taking notes.
You’ve done your best to bring them a great presentation and your audience wants to learn from you. The looks on their faces aren’t doubt or confusion. It’s focus! Well, d’oh! Obviously, you’re the expert and they’re the learners. If you can get into this mindset, you can relax and perform at your best.
For more support, look into these presentation resources5 Sites With Tips and Tools for Creating Presentations5 Sites With Tips and Tools for Creating PresentationsThere's more to giving a presentation than mastering presentation software. These tools might just make you take over the stage with your next presentation.Read More.
What are your tips for a killer presentation? Let’s hear in the comments! And if this article helped you, please share it with your friends!
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Microsoft's PowerPoint application is a powerful tool for creating multimedia presentations. With clip art, fancy fonts, animations, charts, graphics, sound, and an array of dazzling color schemes, it is all too easy to make the equivalent of a Hollywood flop and lose your message in the medium.
Here are some basic thoughts that might help you create effective presentations.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
- Use only one message per slide. If you have more than one message, add a slide.
- Limit the amount of text on each slide - no one wants to read a JAMA article during your presentation.
- Use only elements that add to the content of the message. Use graphics that clearly support your message. Good graphics can significantly add to learning, bad graphics can confuse and distract your audience.
- Maintain a consistent design with regard to colors, font styles, and graphics.
- You might use a formal typeface like Palatino and a symmetrical layout for a serious issue or you could use a casual font like Comic Sans and an asymmetrical layout for a lighter topic.
- Have a beginning, a middle and an end. Tell your audience what you are going to tell them, tell it, and then summarize it.
Try this - Write your last slide first - if you don't know where you are going, it is unlikely you will be able to get there. Plan your conclusion first; know what you want to convey. Make the rest of your slides lead to and support the final result.
Guidelines for Creating Presentations
- Who is the audience
- What do they know about the material
- What do you want them to learn
- Where will the presentation take place & under what conditions
- Each slide should address a single concept
- Slides should follow a logical progression, each building on the other
- Use no more than six lines of text on any one slide
- Use upper and lower case text, NOT all caps
- Choose a color appropriate to the mood you want to convey
- Avoid using too many colors (maximum of 5)
- Use photographs to help the audience relate slide information to real world situations (keep in mind that if you use an outside source it is under copyright and permission to use it must be granted)
- Dark Blue to project a stable, mature message - has a calming effect
- Red or Orange to trigger excitement or an emotional response
- Green to make audience comfortable
- Yellow to get audience attention quickly (more so than any other color)
- Gray to promote the idea of "quality"
- White to project honesty/sincerity
- Black is not appealing to most viewers
To keep an audience focused, use dark colors for background and lighter colors for text and illustrations. The eye is naturally drawn to lighter areas and lighter and warmer colored objects appear closer than dark objects.
Microsoft Office Template Gallery - https://templates.office.com/en-us/Themes
Presentation Pro http://www.presentationpro.com/
Steve's PowerPoint FAQ http://www.pptfaq.com/index.html
PowerPoint for Macintosh- Zip file of tutorials and videos (100MB) http://download.microsoft.com/download/A/7/F/A7F9018D-3B23-4EDA-A554-A128C74C366C/PowerPoint_2011_Training.zip
PowerPoint for Windows - Getting Started https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Basic-tasks-in-PowerPoint-2010-35308dfb-792d-400a-b69a-1188b019c66a?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US
Florida Gulf CoastUniversity http://www.fgcu.edu/Support/ppt2013.html
NC State College of Humanities and Social Sciences https://it.chass.ncsu.edu/tutorials/mspowerpoint/
Indezine PowerPoint Tutorials http://www.indezine.com/products/powerpoint/learn/
Links to Workshop Slides
Getting Started with PowerPoint /~library/biomed/guides/docs/Learning-PwrPt.pptx
Advanced PowerPoint /~library/biomed/guides/docs/Adv-PowerPoint-WKSP.pptx
PowerPoint Tips and Tricks http://www.dartmouth.edu/~biomed/workshops/PPT-Fac-Seminar.pptx
Posters with PowerPoint /~library/biomed/guides/docs/Posters-with-PowerPoint.pdf