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Guidelines to Follow to Create a Great PowerPoint Presentation

A pro tip for effective presentations is to show and tell. PowerPoint slides come in handy as a visual aid whether you are giving a talk at a career day event, or pitching a proposal to a prospective client. However, as engaging as slideshows may be, they can also be as easily distracting. To avoid misleading your audience and helping their attention stray, follow these guidelines to create a great PowerPoint presentation every time.

Things to Avoid for an Effective PowerPoint Presentation

1. Too Many Transitions and Sound Effects

Using sound effects and slide transitions can be tempting when trying to make your presentation fun and engaging. However, using too many of them can distract your audience and take their attention away from your message. When preparing a PowerPoint presentation, leave the dramatic sound effects and fascinating transitioning effects to the Nollywood filmmakers, please.

2. Default Clip-Art

The clipart included in PowerPoint has become so overused, that it is now tiring to see in presentations. Use personal scanned images from your photos instead, or high-quality pictures from reputable stock photo companies. Sources like PhotoDisc and Snapz Pro have been recommended by experts.

3. Templates

Templates can be rigid and force you to present using a style that does not suit you. When preparing your PowerPoint presentation, conduct extensive research on visual storytelling and create your unique framework. Your ideas are original, their representation should be also.

4. Slides Crammed up with Text

When your slides are too full of text, it entices your audience to focus on reading what the text says instead of on your presentation. Your slideshow should be a visual aid to help your message come alive, not the whole gist. Follow the 5-5-5 rule; 5 words per bullet point, 5 bullet points per slide, and 5 slides per section of your presentation. Your audience will be able to balance their attention between you and the slides better when the text is presented in key points.

5. Too Many Slides

Watching tons and tons of slides waltz by can get tiring for your audience, try to summarize all your graphics into the smallest amount of slides possible. Typically, you should talk and demonstrate more than you show slides. Don’t use the slides as your lecture notes, use them as illustrations instead. You can distribute the printed form of your slides after the presentation.

6. Small Fonts

Most people simply scan the visual art for use in their presentation directly from hardcopy printed resource materials they already have. The problem with this is that the fonts on the resultant slide will be too small for the listening audience to view comfortably. Printed materials are designed to be viewed from a couple of inches away, not a distance of several feet. While preparing your slideshow, pay attention to the size of your font and image pixels, and make adjustments as necessary. The recommended font size for a text slide is between 36 to 48 points.

7. Ambiguous Words and Expressions

Big grammar and too much corporate jargon can put off your listening audience faster than you say “focus”. Analyze your audience, and use the level of terminologies suitable for them. When using expressions, employ the ones your audience can resonate with the most. The same goes for stories and icebreakers you may want to introduce at the beginning of your presentation, you don’t want to have to explain a joke you shared before your audience gets it.

8. Reading instead of speaking

A presentation whether in person or over Zoom, should focus on interaction. Reading from text slides ruins that. Familiarize yourself with the information in the PowerPoint presentation before you step into the meeting room so you can speak with more authority and confidence. If you ever have to refer back to the slide (not to illustrate a point), take a glance and revert to staying focused on your audience as you speak. Try not to back the slides while you present, instead set up your projector in a way that lets both you and your audience have a clear view of the PowerPoint. Standing adjacent to the projected slide works great for an effective presentation.

What you should do for an Effective PowerPoint Presentation

1. Put the Presentation down in Writing First

The first thing to do when preparing your PowerPoint presentation is to write a draft. As much as this sounds time-consuming, it is essential because it will give you a script to follow when creating the PowerPoint slides. Pick a central theme for your presentation, and present your ideas in a logical order in your draft. After writing out your ideas, expand on them, organize the derived content and place them the way you’d like them to appear on the slides using bullet points.

2. Keep Things Simple

While preparing your PowerPoint presentation, keep things simple and avoid cluttering it with too many visuals. Use white line spaces between texts in slides. That will make it look more neat and comprehendible to your audience. Also, use a grid to align texts and images on slides, so that they look more arranged.

3. Use Images with great Picture Quality.

Pictures tell a story better than words. A combination of the two would properly evoke powerful emotions in the mind of your audience. However, the standard clipart provided in the software has been overused and may no longer be effective at sparking interest. Conduct extensive research on sites like iStock, Getty Images, and Shutterstock to find great quality images and include them in your slides for better engagement. Don’t use too much of them though, it could effectively distract your audience instead.

4. Tailor your Presentation Design to the Central Theme of your PowerPoint

PowerPoint comes with already prepared templates to assist users who are using the software for the first time. However, these templates are very generic because they are designed to be acceptable for any theme. Feel free to create your unique designs instead, to give your PowerPoint a more original look and feel.

5. Replace Pie Charts and Histograms with Numbers and icons

In a bid to employ visuals in PowerPoint, presenters often use pie charts and histograms to represent statistics. However, these illustrations compel your audience to try to assimilate a ton of information at once, which implies that they will be distracted and pay less attention to what you are saying. Replace charts with icons and infographics for more authenticity, and to make your presentation stand out.

6. Experiment with Solid Colors

Colors go a long way to evoke emotions and tell stories beautifully. Use cool colors for backgrounds, and warmer colors for highlights. While you experiment with using colors in your PowerPoint presentation, remember to maintain contrast between your text and the background of the slide, so that the words stand out and are more legible. Try not to use combinations that are too preppy, solid colors work best. Websites like Color Hunt and Color Lovers were created to assist with this part of your PowerPoint.

7. Use Simple yet Appealing Font

The dramatic sweeps and flourishes in unconventional fonts may be very appealing, but they do not belong in a PowerPoint presentation. When there is too much going on in your slides, your audience will be confused. They also appear unprofessional if your presentation aims to pitch a product or service to a client. You can switch between font types to make your piece more interesting, but don’t overdo it (use a max of 3 different font types in one presentation).

Step-by-Step Guide to Create a PowerPoint Presentation from scratch on Ms. PowerPoint

  1. Download the Microsoft Office Suite
  2. Open PowerPoint
  3. Select New on the top left-hand side of the pane.
  4. Click on the blank presentation
  5. Click on take a tour to get more insight into the process from the software. PS: You can skip this.
  6. Select create and go back to the pane to add slides.
  7. In the Home tab, go to the Slides section and click on New Slide.
  8. Select Layout and choose your desired presentation layout from the ones provided in the menu.
  9. Use your cursor to select a text box and start typing.
  10. Adjust the font presentation as necessary, using the icons in the taskbar. Available options include selecting font type, increasing the font size, decreasing the font size, making text bold or italic, and underlining text.
  11. Highlight the text and select bullets or numbers to customize the text even further.
  12. To add images, click on Insert at the top left-hand side of the taskbar.
  13. Select images in this section, and click on pictures to add pictures. You can use insert pictures from your gallery or the internet by browsing for them and selecting them.
  14. To add illustrations, select ShapesIcons3D ModelsSmartArt, or Chart.
  15. A dialog box will pop up when you click on any of the illustration types, then you can select the item you want and follow the prompts to include it. 

Pro Tips

  • Never type in all caps, highlight the text in bold letters instead for emphasis.
  • Ensure that all the words and expressions used in your presentation are easy-to-understand for your audience.
  • Look your audience in the eye for the whole duration of your presentation. If you need to consult the projected slide, only take a quick peek and return your full attention to the audience.
  • Back up your PowerPoint presentation on a hard disk, or to your google cloud. That would serve as a plan B, should any technical issues come up and you need to use a different computer.
  • Practice your presentation over and over again before D-day, to build your confidence. Pay attention to body language while you practice, don’t demonstrate too much.

Let us know if you find this helpful for your next pitch. Succes

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