We’ve all been there. Stood at the front of the stage, key cards in hand, delivering PowerPoint presentations on goodness knows what. Whether you love or hate public speaking, this scenario will either excite you or terrify you. For me personally, I’m the latter.
Nevertheless, one thing that always makes me feel a lot more confident when presenting is knowing that I have a good quality slideshow behind me. It not only helps me feel reassured that the audience has something else to look at other than me and my cards, but it also helps break up the talk and keep my audience engaged.
If you’re not a Microsoft PowerPoint expert though, don’t worry. There are a number of tricks and tools you can use to make your presentation more engaging. Let’s go through some things to think about when you’re next designing a slideshow:
1. Keep text short and sweet.
Slides are designed to function as visual prompts and short summaries of what exactly it is you’re talking about. They’re not there for you to put your presentation script on – they should act more like flash cards. Summarise what it is you’re trying to say in a few short bullet points and then work off these during your presentation.
However, make sure you don’t use too many bullet points. Think about what you would be interested in looking at. Would you really want to stare at a slide full of bullet pointed text? Keep it short and sweet rather than bulky and overloaded.
2. Use images in your PowerPoint presentations.
Images are both a good way of breaking up your PowerPoint presentation, and a great way of conveying what you have to say. Use graphs and any visual data you have to support what you’re saying, and keep away from cartoonish clip art images – they tend to look unprofessional.
Try and use high quality graphics from royalty-free websites such as Deposit Photos when possible. Not only do they look more professional than clip art options, but they also give you a much larger collection to choose from.
3. Involve the audience.
The best presentations are those which involve the audience. Think about it – how many truly great presentations have you been to where the speaker hasn’t asked the audience a question? I can’t think of any.
Asking your audience questions and gathering data using a CLiKAPAD response system is a great way of both breaking up your PowerPoint presentations and keeping those listening on their toes. Make sure you don’t overuse this element though, as asking too many questions could just leave your audience feeling bored and frustrated.
4. Keep it simple.
As already mentioned, don’t overdo it. You don’t want to oversaturate your presentation with too many elements, whether that be images, questions or text. If you do, it could just leave your audience feeling fairly lost.
Put yourself in their shoes – how would you feel if you were watching your own PowerPoint presentation? Knowing the answer to this question can really help you improve your slideshow, as well as improve your confidence when delivering your talk.
If you ever feel scared or nervous before giving a presentation, don’t worry at all – you’re not alone. Click here for our top tips on how to get over those pesky pre-presentation nerves.