Effective PowerPoint Presentation

So, you are overtaken by despair because you have another tedious PowerPoint presentation to prepare!

How boring to be a member of an audience watching yet one more long, lifeless and boring set of PowerPoint slides. Even worse, how painful is it to be the person delivering the presentation?

The fact is that even good presenters can create bad PowerPoint presentations. In addition, furthermore, the person delivering a boring presentation is often just as much a pity as the poor people listening to them.

The following is a list of ten great tips to bring your presentation to life! This list is not entirely complete, of course, but it is a good starting point. If you have any good tips, EssaysWriters.com would love to hear them!

Create your script

Even a little time spent planning should reap good benefits. The majority of presentations are created in MS PowerPoint or in some similar presentation-making software, and most are created without any distinct purpose.

This approach is senseless since the reason for creating slides is to demonstrate your knowledge and expand on what you intend to say. It is important to know what you are going to say and then work out how to convey your words in visual terms. Assuming you are not an improvisation expert, take time to at least create an outline or draft of what you are going to say (your script) before attempting to create your slides.

Furthermore, do your best to ensure your script adheres to the conventions of good story-telling. Make sure it has a beginning, a middle part, and an ending. Try and build up to some form of climax and, along the way, try and get your audience to appreciate each one of your slides. Make them eager to know what is coming next and, if possible, leave them craving more.  

Take things one step at a time

At each moment of your presentation, it is the point you are talking about that should be projected on screen. Audiences tend to immediately read slides the moment they are displayed. Therefore, if you show the next few points you intend to make on the screen, members of your audience will be way ahead of you. So, essentially, rather than listening to what you are saying, they will be waiting for you to reach the point they are at.

Try and plan your work so that one point only is showing at any one time. It is possible to reveal bullet points one by one as you arrive at them. You can put charts on the following slide and reference them when you reach the data contained in them. As a presenter, your task is controlling the way and pace at which information flows so that you and your listeners are always in tune with each other.

Forget about paragraphs.

One place where the majority of presentations fall down is that their creators believe the work they have produced is stand-alone so they place everything they plan on saying in big, unfriendly chunks of text onto their presentation slides.

But do not congratulate yourself too soon. This just puts everyone in the room to sleep through boredom.

Remember your slides are not your actual presentation; they are mere illustrations to support what you are saying. Their aim is to emphasize and reinforce your message. Large blocks of text should be confined to your script. Like other presentation-style software, PowerPoint has the ability to show notes on the speaker’s own screen without projecting them onto the big screen. Alternatively, you can keep your notes in a separate document on your word processor, on notecards, or in your head. Just keep them off the screen. Or, if you have good reason for projecting them onto the big screen, do not read them directly from the screen with your back turned to your audience.  

Attend carefully to design

There are a number of different ways to add “flash” visuals and other fancy features – such as flashing text, swipes, fades, and more - in PowerPoint and in other presentation software. These can be done with a few clicks of your mouse.

However, you should try and resist the temptation to fill up your slides with too many pretentious effects. It is best to focus on a simple and basic design:  

  • The best font for your body text is a sans serif one. Arial, Calibri, Helvetica and other sans serif fonts are easy to read.
  • Confine your use of decorative or fancy fonts to headings, and only use ones that are not difficult to read.  Some decorative fonts such as art nouveau, calligraphy, flowers, futuristic, German blackface, psychotic handwriting, and so on, are difficult to read and are best reserved purely for top-of-page headers. An even better option is to stick with elegant serif fonts such as Baskerville or Georgia.
  • It is a good idea to use darker-colored text on a contrasting lighter background because this is also easy to read. If it is imperative for you to use a darkened background if, say, your organization uses this as its standard format, make the text as light as you can e.g. white, a pale grey, cream, or a pastel color. You could also increase your font size by two or maybe three points for better legibility.
  • It is advisable to align your text to the right or left-hand side for the sake of appearance and readability. It is more difficult to read text that is centered and it does not look very professional.
  • Do not clutter your slides. A header, some bullet or numbered points and, perhaps, an image is sufficient. Over and above this, your audience is likely to get lost figuring everything out.

Be sparing in your use of images

The use of images within presentations tends to evoke some debate. Some people feel they make the work more visually interesting and help engage audiences. Others feel images are a distraction and are unnecessary.

Both schools of thought are valid, so the best option may be to compromise. Only use images when they have some vital information to add or they lend solidness to some abstract idea or point.

On this same subject, it is advisable not to use the in-built clipart in PowerPoint. Everyone has seen every item in version 2003 and previous versions countless times. People have grown tired of over-used clichés so it is best to avoid these. Some of the clipart in later versions of PowerPoint and in other presentation software is less familiar, but as this is increasingly used it soon reaches its sell-by date. Essentially, this no longer feels new.

Think beyond your screen

Always keep in mind that your slides are only an aid and not the key part of your presentation. While the room you are using is likely to be darkened, do consider your own mannerisms, e.g., how you dress, your bearing, the way you move, and so on. Do not forget you will be the main focus while presenting regardless of how compelling your slides.  

Find a good hook

Like good writing, the most successful presentations grab an audience’s attention early and keep it throughout. Begin with an intriguing or surprising snippet to get your listeners interested. The best hooks are usually the ones that directly appeal to the emotions of people. Therefore, try and offer something amazing or, if appropriate, something scary. Then continue to build on your opening promise.

Include some questions

Questions in a presentation are good for arousing interesting, making audiences curious, and engaging people. So put some questions in your presentation. Create suspense, pause for a moment, and leave your audience in anticipation before providing the answer in the next slide. Test your listeners’ knowledge before filling in the gaps. Where appropriate, hold a question and answer session, but with you asking all the questions!

Keep modulating your tone

This is particularly important if you are a regular presenter. It is easy to get into the habit of droning on without changing your inflection much. Use the tone that you would with a friend and not as though you are reading from notes. If you find it difficult to maintain a personable and lively tone, practice in advance. If this does not work and presentations play a key role in your job, consider taking a course in public speaking.

You need not stick exactly to the rules

As happens in most cases, there are certain times when particular rules will not seem applicable. When you feel there is good justification for breaking a rule, break it. The practice is entirely acceptable. What is not acceptable is breaking rules through ignorance because this can lead to boring and shoddy presentations which, in turn, can kill the presenter’s efforts and put the audience to sleep. In addition, it is unlikely that is your aim! 

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