Practical Tips for Creating Persuasive PowerPoint Presentations
On 22nd May 2016 it will be PowerPoint’s 26th birthday! Sadly, many people still ruin their presentations because they don’t know how to use powerful presentation tool properly. This article will help you create better PowerPoint Presentations.
- Don’t let the tail wag the dog
Visual aids should be an add-on to your presentation rather than the main event. If you want to create a persuasive presentation, please don’t opt for PowerPoint until you’ve thought about your content and your structure. Only then can you decide which bits will be enhanced by a visual aid. NB: Enter your email in the box at the end of this article to get a copy of my FREE presentation structure guide.
- Uses images rather than text
Many ineffective presenters get confused about the purpose of their visual aids. They use them as a script for the speaker rather than an aid for the audience. Smart speakers understand that the primary purpose of your PowerPoint presentation is to help your audience understand the messages that you want them to take away.
- Don’t read the text off your slides
People hate presenters who read out every word on their slides. If all you do is read out your slides, you might as well just email them to your audience and let them read them in their own time. As well as annoying your audience, reading off your slides seriously affects your ability to engage with your audience. You’ll make less eye contact and you voice will sound flat and boring. The simplest way to make sure that you don’t fall into this all too common trap is to minimise the amount of text on your slides.
- Avoid competing with your slides
Complex or text-heavy slides demand to be read, by the audience as well as the presenter. As a result your audience’s attention is split between reading your slides and listening to you speak. Imagine you had to listen to two different presenters speaking simultaneously. How easy would it be to maintain your concentration? Complicated slides tend to act like a second presenter and compete with you for the audience’s attention. The solution is to keep your slides simple and clear. Test them using the five-second rule. If it takes longer than a five-second scan to understand your slide, it’s too complicated – simplify it!
- Uses images, charts or diagrams rather than text
I said earlier that the purpose of your PowerPoint presentation is to support your verbal messages. Photographs, graphs and diagrams do this much better than lots of text or tables. They allow a lot of information to be absorbed and processed very quickly. That probably why infographics are so popular on Social Media. For more information on this I recommend that you check out Garr Reynolds wonderful book Presentation Zen or Nancy Duarte’s book Slideology. Click here to find links to these and other recommended books.
- Give your audience a break from slides now and again
Have you heard of the expression “Too much of a good thing”? If you follow the preceding tips your slides should be well designed and effective. Even so, show too many slides in quick succession and your audience will become jaded. Give them a break from slides every now and again and they’ll really appreciate it.. With PowerPoint this is easy – simply press “B” on your keyboard, or the blank screen button if you are using a remote clicker.
- Don’t overload your audience with numbers
I’ve sat through more than my fair share of awful PowerPoint presentations and one of the commonest faults is data dumping. Data has a part to play but it needs to be used sparingly. Graph after graph or table after table is guaranteed to switch off most audiences. Show only the data that is absolutely essential to make your case and present it in as clear a way as possible, e.g. as a graph or pie chart.
- Press, Pause, Present
Give your audience a moment to digest your slide before you speak. Talking over your slide is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you pause for a few seconds after pressing the “next slide” button.
- Use a clicker to control your slides
Using your laptop keyboard or mouse to control your PowerPoint presentation is usually a bad idea. It effectively tethers you to a fixed location and reduces your ability to move and interact with your audience. A wireless clicker allows you to control your slides remotely from up to 10 metres away.