Despite what I’ve just said I’m a big fan of PowerPoint and similar presentation aids; so long as you remember that’s all they are – aids! They are not the presentation (you still have to do that yourself), and they’re not there to bail out dull presenters who haven’t taken the trouble to create an interesting and engaging story.
Well thought-out PowerPoint slides add impact, help you emphasize critical points and make your presentation more memorable. They are there to support you rather than being something you can hide behind.
Make your visuals ‘visual’
Reading out your slides is not the same thing as presenting.
Isn’t it so much better when your attention is held by the presenter and only directed to the screen when there’s something important to see or an image that reinforces the message?
Put yourself in the spotlight
Here are my top tips for using PowerPoint:
- Decide whether you actually need it in the first place. Is it going to help you get the message across? Or are you using it because ‘it’s expected’ or because you’re worried that otherwise you’ll forget what you wanted to say?
- Be imaginative. Use slides with images and key words to reinforce your message. Don’t just break your presentation speech into bullet points and stick these on the slides.
- Keep designs plain and avoid fussy backgrounds.
- Use clear fonts like Arial as they are usually easier to read at a distance (not that you’ll be displaying a lot of things that people need to read).
- Make sure there is a good contrast between text and background – remember you may not have control over the lighting in the room!
- Use as few slides as possible. More slides mean more activity on the screen and less focus on you.
- Don’t keep turning round to look at your slides. You can half turn to point to something on the slide, but do so as infrequently as possible and always face the front when speaking
Hugh Graham, The Bid Coach
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