In this post I’d like to talk about PowerPoint. PowerPoint can be a really effective tool that helps your audience understand and remember your message but for most people it can also be the main reason why your presentation is boring and why your audience switch off.
I’d like to challenge you to think about how you use PowerPoint. Stop thinking about it as a place where you can put your notes to remind you of what to say and start thinking of it as a visual aid to support the key messages that you are saying.
Don’t open PowerPoint. Get out a piece of paper and a pen and do a mind map of your key messages and key points. Take the time to think about how long you have to present, who you are presenting to, what your audience already knows about the topic and what they need to know.
2. The structure
Be clear about the introduction, your key points and your conclusion. Your conclusion should tie back into your introduction.
Once the structure is clear in your mind it will be much easier to use PowerPoint effectively to reinforce your key points rather than getting the slides to say them for you.
2. Use examples and stories
A good public speaker is essentially a good story teller. Giving examples and stories helps your audience understand the key points and why the points are important and relevant to you and to them. This also helps you connect with your audience and build a relationship with them.
3. Do you need slides?
For some reason, now that we have access to PowerPoint we think that every presentation we do needs to have slides. This is not necessarily the case. Think about the purpose of your presentation, the size and the formality. If it is large group then slides may be appropriate but if it is a small workshop of 10 or so people, using a whiteboard may be more effective tool.
4. Designing your slide deck
If you decide you do need slides then think carefully about which points in your presentation you need these. Go through your well-prepared notes and decide on which points would benefit from emphasis with a slide. Remember, if you don’t absolutely need a slide then don’t use one.
Next, think about whether your going to use words or images on your slides. Remember the 7 x 7 rule- no more than 7 words per line and no more than 7 lines per slides. Some of the most effective slides are those that have only one or two words to highlight a key word or phrase.
If using graphs, make sure they are readable. You must also give the graphs meaning. There is no point in putting up a slide that no one can read and no one understands the purpose of.
By far, the most powerful way to use PowerPoint is to use images. Images give power to your message, make you stand out from the crowd, help your audience understand your key points and helps your audience remember them.
5. Be prepared
Whenever I give a presentation with or without slides, I stand up and rehearse it out loud. This is the only way to know whether the flow is right, to get your pacing and transitions correct and to be able to speak with confidence. Through practice you also have the opportunity to work on making your voice engaging and interesting.. Think about where you will pause and the rise and fall of your voice. No one wants to listen to a monotone presentation and the delivery is key to ensuring your message gets across to your audience clearly and effectively