Delivering Effective PowerPoint Presentations
By K M Mahmud Hasan
Presenting Clear Information
Use your slides to visually punctuate your message.
Your slides should help your audience focus on the main points. Make sure each word and image helps convey your message in the strongest possible way.
Limit how much information you provide on each slide.
Use the slides for emphasis, but don’t try to include all of the instruction on your slides.
- Include only one main idea per slide.
- Use key words to help the audience focus on your message.
- Use active, visual language.
- Cut unnecessary words: Take a look at a written copy of your presentation. Cut paragraphs down to sentences, sentences into phrases, and phrases into key words.
Give each slide a title.
Titles will help the audience quickly understand the main themes of your talk.
Organize your presentation into a logical sequence.
Make sure that your presentation is easy for the audience to follow by checking the sequence of your slides. The main point of each of the slides should flow logically from one to another.
Presenting Clear Visuals
Make your text large.
Small text is hard for audience members to read.
- Use at least 32 point font size for titles.
- Use at least 20 point font size for body text.
Keep the text slides brief.
Too much information can overwhelm your audience.
- Choose brief, simple statements instead of full sentences.
- Try to use no more than eight to ten words per line of text.
- Try to use no more than eight to ten lines of text on each slide.
Use an easy to read, color format.
- Pick a color combination that offers a strong contrast between the background and the text. Dark backgrounds with light colored text or light backgrounds with dark colored text work best. If you know you will be presenting in a poorly-lit room, use a light background. Conversely, if you know you will be presenting in a well-lit room, use a dark background.
- Limit the number of colors you use to no more than three. Color can help add interest and can be used to emphasize key points. However, too much color can be distracting.
- Text drop shadows should be black or a darker shade of the background color.
Keep images simple.
Images (such as graphs, tables, and pictures) can help strengthen your presentation by conveying your message in an interesting and often easy-to-understand format. Before using art, ask yourself whether the art enhances or clarifies your message.
- Unnecessary art and animation can create visual clutter and distract from your message.
- Some art, especially photos and other high-resolution images, can also greatly increase the amount of memory needed to run the slide show.
- Sometimes scanned images and photos are too large for a film recorder to handle easily, leading to delays in the slide presentation.
Tips for Giving a Successful Presentation
Check your equipment in advance.
Before your presentation, check the following:
- Make sure cables and cords are connected properly and all the equipment is operating.
- If you are using someone else’s computer, make sure it has adequate disk space, adequate memory, and the appropriate versions of the software you need (including PowerPoint).
Check your computer settings in advance.
It helps to check the following, especially if you are using someone else’s computer:
- Make sure the “system standby” function on the computer is turned off. If this function is turned on, your computer might temporarily turn off if you don’t use it for a designated time period. On a PC, you can check this by going to the Control Panel and look at the Power Options.
- Turn off the screen saver, since a screen saver can slow down your presentation. On a PC, turn this off by going to the Control Panel and then to Display. Click on the Screen Saver tab to turn the screen saver off.
Interact with your audience.
Don’t read off the screen.
- Use slides as prompts, outlines, or conversation points, not as a script.
- Move around the room and make eye contact with as many people as possible.
Use your finger as a pointer, rather than the mouse.
Although you can use the mouse to create a pointer on the slide, using your finger to point is generally more accurate and less distracting to the audience. When you move the mouse to point, it is often difficult to control the little pointer and it can be difficult to see.
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