PowerPoint is the go-to visual aid for public speakers. Used correctly, it can ensure that your audience remembers your key points as they walk away from your presentation. Used poorly, your slides distract both you and your audience.
Here are our top five PowerPoint tips for enhancing your message:
- Keep your text concise. Eliminate non-essential information from every line on every slide. Avoid using your slides as a place to put footnotes or information you don’t have time to cover in your speech. Also make sure you are not using PowerPoint for your presentation notes. Instead, use the text on your slides to reinforce your main points. Keep your audience focused on what you are saying. Once they start reading your PowerPoint, they will stop listening to you.
- Make every image count. If you find yourself struggling to think of the right image or graphic to use, it may be better to not use one. Reaching for symbolism will only make the minds of your audience wander as they try to figure out the connection. Just like your text, use images to reinforce your main points.
- Use animation wisely. For the majority of your presentation, keep slide transitions and animations simple and consistent to avoid distraction. If you have a key word or insight you want to emphasize, you can vary the animation to bring your audience’s attention to it – just be sure to time it so your slide doesn’t give away your big insight before you get to it.
- Visually represent your data. Statistics and data points are much easier to understand in a visual format that uses clear, easy-to-understand graphs and charts. As you build these elements into your presentation, try to stick to one idea per slide. While showing your data is important, packing too much information into a single slide can overwhelm and distract your audience. When presenting the data, provide an overview, a few key details, and a bottom-line takeaway message.
- Tell a story. Your PowerPoint can be a powerful instrument in creating a narrative throughout your presentation. Think of the basic elements of a story:
- Setting: Your PowerPoint is the background of your story, so keep it consistent throughout with your choice of colors, fonts, and themes.
- Plot: Help your audience understand the importance of the story you are telling through your key points and visuals. This will keep them engaged and eager to hear what happens next.
- Climax: When appropriate, allow for a little creative tension by pointing your listeners toward a problem to solve or an opportunity to achieve. Use your PowerPoint to emphasize the key point(s) and conclusions you are trying to make. Create excitement surrounding the insights you are sharing with the audience.
- Resolution: Impactful images help your audience see how your content relates to them personally. If your message calls for it, make your final comments a call-to-action, too. Even if your goal is simply to help them understand something new, the summary can remind them of why remembering your comments will benefit them personally.
As you build your presentation, remember to keep it simple. You are the presenter. Your slides are simply there to back you up.