We live in an age where, no matter what function or department you work with, you will encounter the need to deliver a presentation on a topic of significance. And that means creating a “PPT” from scratch, and often, presenting it yourself. Now, I’ve spent two decades working with Powerpoint and know, first hand, that it’s not nearly as easy as it seems. Yes, any one with a mouse and a copy of Microsoft’s PowerPoint software can start “building slides”. But, creating a presentation of Quality – that’s a different matter altogether.
Some argue that addressing an audience is an art, not a science. That you need charisma to make an impact. That leaders and speakers are born, not made. Others argue that they have, in fact, benefited from the countless resources on the Web (and in the real world) that offer the promise of making you a better speaker.
Be that as it may, how do you deliver a good presentation?
First of all, you need to accept that there is no substitute for “clarity of thought“. Just as knowledge of Photoshop does not make you a Van Gogh, knowing how to make a PowerPoint slide deck does not necessarily result in an impactful presentation. So take the time to study the topic before you, and jot down your thoughts (preferably on paper) on what you want to share with your audience.
Remember, presentations are about communicating an idea in the most effective manner possible – not about fancy fonts, packing your slides with a lot of data, or using animated transitions.
Here’s my list of points to keep in mind, the next time you face a Blank Slide template…
- Keep it Simple : Less slides, less text, less data
- Divide the content in the form of a story : Have a Start, a Middle and an End. (If you want to make a stronger impact, begin with the end!)
- When you present any data, do mention its source
- Use a lot of white-space and a large text size: Content should be readable from 20 feet away
- While creating the presentation, don’t start each slide from scratch. Instead, take the slide with the most similar looking layout, copy-paste, and use that as the starting point. That way, all formatting will be consistent across your slide-deck.
- Prepare for possible questions that may come up… and their answers!
- If you display images/pictures/screenshots in your slide, post them prominently against a full-black or full-white background to make the graphic stand out without any distractions
- If, inspite of good advice, you make a loooong presentation, summarize key points/conclusions at the end
- If you’re going to present in a new room, get acquainted with it beforehand to reduce presentation stress
- Check all audio-visual settings, seating arrangements, handouts, etc. well before the scheduled start
- Lastly, keep your sense of humour!
Read PresentationZen’s Top 10 Slide Tips and Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 rule, before you even double-click on the PowerPoint icon – they both have some great tips for you to follow, regardless of the topic you’re presenting on. You can also bookmark AllTop’s rich resource on all things related to communication, here.