Some folks think PowerPoint is outdated or overused. While I might partially agree, I can say one thing for sure–it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. When I say I “partially agree,” I just mean there are tons of alternatives out there now to PowerPoint. If you’re tasked with putting together a multimedia presentation, you have considerably more options for software than you did 5-10 years ago. All that aside, though, PowerPoint is still widely used, and your presentation can shine with a few simple tips.
#1: Less is More
One of the biggest mistakes presenters make is putting far too much stuff on the slides. People come to hear and see the presenter, not the slides. The slides should simply add some complementary elements.
Images and infographics are great options to include–often with NO accompanying text on the slide. It’s the presenter’s responsibility, then, to explain to the audience what they’re seeing and why it’s relevant.
When text is used, never write complete sentences on the slides, and follow the 6×6 rule: no more than six bullets per slide with no more than six words per bullet. When in doubt, shoot for a 5×5 rule instead! Bullet lines should be short phrases written with parallel structure (e.g. all beginning with an action verb). Since they’re short phrases and not sentences, periods should not be used at the end of each line. Again, it is the presenter’s responsibility to explain to the audience what they’re seeing and why it’s relevant.
#2: Go Easy on the Animations and Transitions
Sometimes, people get excited about all the “cool” things you can do with animations and transitions in PowerPoint. While they may be fun, overdoing it can and will take away from the presentation. Excessive use of these things is distracting at best and at worst makes us look unprofessional or even childish.
Should you choose to use them in your presentation, I recommend picking subtle ones and keeping them consistent. Don’t use different ones for every slide and element just for the fun of it, and don’t use the ones that take ten seconds to complete and flash crazy things all over the screen.
#3: Do Not Read Your Slides to the Audience
One of the absolute worst things you can do as a presenter is get up in front of your audience and simply read your slides to them. First of all, the audience is capable of reading what you wrote, so let them do it. Second, they’ll get bored in a hurry if you’re not giving them any additional info than what they can plainly already see. And third (and perhaps most importantly), when you start reading word-for-word, your voice will quickly become monotone and disengaging. Your audience will lose interest and will find themselves easily distracted by anything else.