Your audience should be first on your list of considerations. The audience is there to hear you, not merely to stare at images tossed onto a screen. Build a strong PowerPoint program, but make sure that your spoken remarks are as compelling.
Unfortunately, too many presenters annoy their audiences. An online survey of several hundred individuals who regularly see PowerPoint presentations revealed the following top annoyances:
|The speaker read the slides to us||62.0%|
|The text was so small I couldn’t read it||46.9%|
|Slides hard to see because of color choice||42.6%|
|Full sentences instead of bullet points||39.1%|
|Moving/flying text or graphics||24.8%|
|Overly complex diagrams or charts||22.2%|
IMPROVING YOUR POWERPOINT PRESENTATION
1- GOAL OF THE PRESENTATION
Most presentations are either informative – trying to enlighten the audience with some information – or persuasive – trying to persuade the audience to take some action. Decide what the audience should know or do at the end of the presentation.
In a way, PowerPoint’s ease of use may be its own worst enemy bear in mind that PowerPoint isn’t autonomous. You still must give the presentation. As you can see one of the most prevalent and damaging habits of PowerPoint users is to simply read the visual presentation to the audience. Not only is that redundant — short of using the clicker, why are you even there? — but it makes even the most visually appealing presentation boring to the bone. PowerPoint works best with spoken remarks that augment and discuss, rather than mimic, what’s on the screen.
2- KEEP IT SIMPLE
The most effective PowerPoint presentations are simple — charts that are easy to understand, and graphics that reflect what the speaker is saying. Prepare a simple slide design with contrasting colors and clear fonts. Use a similar layout for each slide so that the presentation is consistent in appearance for the audience.
3- MINIMIZE NUMBERS IN SLIDES
For the most part, the most effective PowerPoint displays don’t overwhelm viewers with too many figures and numbers. Instead, leave those for a later, more thorough digestion in handouts distributed at the presentation’s end.
4- SLIDE DESIGN
Pick Fonts that are Large Enough
A general rule is that you should never use a font below 24 point size, with the preference being 28 to 32 point size. For titles or headings, use 36 to 44 point size fonts. If the font is too small, no one will be able to read the words and the message will be lost.
Select Colors that Have High Contrast
When you are designing your slide look, pick colors that have high contrast so that the text and graphics can be easily seen when shown. Popular color choices include dark backgrounds such as navy blue or dark purple with a light text color such as white or yellow. This makes the text float on top of the background. Use vibrant colors. A striking contrast between words, graphics, and the background can be very effective in conveying both a message and emotion.
Select Graphics Carefully
Only use graphics – clip art or photographs – if they will add to the message of that slide. There are many wonderful graphics available today, but most of them are not going to add to your message, they will detract from the message. Always ask yourself if this graphic adds to the points, you are making before you put it on the slide.
Don’t limit your presentation to what PowerPoint offers. Use outside images and graphics for variety and visual appeal, including video
5- COMMUNICATING EFFECTIVELY
Use Bullet Points
Instead of full sentences use bullet points to deliver the key ideas on your slides. When using bullet points, make sure not to put too much information on a slide. The 6 by 6 guideline is a good one to keep in mind – each bullet should have no more than 6 words and each slide should have no more than 6 bullet points.
Build Bullet Text Points
When using bullet points, build them one by one on the slide using the build animation effect. This way, you can speak to each point individually and the audience will know which idea you are expanding upon.
Avoid Movement of Slide Elements
While moving text or graphics around the slide may look like fun, it is very distracting to the audience. Avoid the build animation effects where movement is outside the boundaries of the text or graphic. The preferred build effect is the Appear effect where the text just appears in the correct spot on the slide.
Distribute Handouts at The End — Not During The Presentation.
No speaker wants to be chatting to a crowd that’s busy reading a summation of their remarks. Unless it is imperative that people follow a handout while you’re presenting, wait until you’re done to distribute them.
6- YOUR PRESENTATION
Edit Ruthlessly Before Presenting
Never lose the perspective of the audience. Once you’re finished drafting your PowerPoint slides, assume you’re just one of the folks listening to your remarks as you review them. If something is unappealing, distracting, or confusing, edit ruthlessly. Chances are good your overall presentation will be the better for it.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The best way to be comfortable when delivering your presentation is to feel prepared! There is no substitute for practice. All the good speakers you have ever seen have practiced the art of presenting many times. Practice with your computer and projection equipment, if possible, to get a feel for it. Practice everything you plan to say, but do not memorize it because a memorized speech sounds “canned” and not like a conversation, the way a good presentation does.
Time Your Remarks
Another potential land mine is a speaker’s comments that coincide precisely with the appearance of a fresh PowerPoint slide. That merely splits your audience’s attention. A well-orchestrated PowerPoint program brings up a new slide, gives the audience a chance to read and digest it, then follows up with remarks that broaden and amplify what’s on the screen
Again, PowerPoint is most effective as a visual accompaniment to the spoken word. Experienced PowerPoint users aren’t bashful about letting the screen go blank on occasion. Not only can that give your audience a visual break, it’s also effective to focus attention on more verbally focused give and take, such as a group discussion or question and answer session.
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