Five Surefire Ways to Make the Most Out of Your PowerPoint Presentation
- Use as few slides as you can to make your point. It’s like packing a suitcase for your vacation. First, you pack everything you want and need. This overloads your suitcase and makes it hard to close. Next, remove at least half of what you packed and repack the suitcase. Now everything fits and you can happily go on vacation knowing you did the right thing. Go through the same exercise with your slides.
- Face the audience and talk directly to them. Do not look at your slides. As I said above, this is the most important thing you can do to keep your audience engaged. In other words, don’t talk to your slides.
- Turn your presentation into a story using visuals, not bulleted words. Do not use cartoons to make your point. Some audience members might feel you are infantilizing them.
- Distribute your presentation handout to your audience in document form, not in Powerpoint.
- Use your own slides. I was listening to a talk at a conference where the speaker was using PowerPoint. She showed a slide that I thought would fit perfectly in a presentation I’d be giving in a few weeks. I asked her if I could borrow that slide. She said that would be OK. When I presented the talk and clicked on that slide, I froze. I could not, for the life of me, remember how this fit into my talk. It made sense when she used it but did not work for me. I’ll never do that again.
The most important lesson I’ve learned about using PP is that less is more. The less I explain, the more my audience will comprehend. I ask myself, “Do I really need to flash slides on a screen as a way to get my message across? Instead, I prepare a coherent and brief document to be handed out.
So, what’s an effective use of PP? – Try using one or two slides with graphics related to your happy-ending story. Tell a story. It’s a powerful way to get your message across and connect with your audience.
Before your prepare your next PowerPoint presentation, you’ll want to read a brilliant essay by Edward Tufte titled The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within. You can find it at http://www.edwardtufte.com