Ten Powerpointers

>“Make sure you have finished speaking before your
audience has finished listening.
”   – Dorothy Sarnoff >

Giving a PowerPoint presentation sometime soon? Probably the answer is yes. It seems
like the PowerPoint program has become a constant of the modern business world. Yet PowerPoint speeches can sometimes frustrate more than illuminate. Here are ten ways
to achieve an even better outcome with your next presentation.

  1. Brand your slides. For a presentation to external audiences, put your company’s logo in the corner of every slide and close with your logo and web address. This reinforces your authority and helps people learn where to go to find out more about your organization.
  2. Plan realistically. Given the rate at which most people speak, a good rule of thumb is one slide for every two minutes. If your information is particularly dense, plan on a few less.
  3. Openly state why your topic is relevant and important to your audience. Don’t make your listeners try to figure out the context themselves, as it will distract them from hearing what you have to say.
  4. Keep it simple with fonts and movement. Yes, you can really customize your presentation, but surveys have shown hard to read fonts and moving images merely annoy people. Stick to something clear, easily readable and professional looking. Sadly this rules out dancing animals of any kind.
  5. Use bullets and be concise. PowerPoint is not a script. It’s there to provide a summary and help you remember the things you want to say.
  6. Lighten up. Do use visuals, including charts, graphs, photographs and even cartoons that tie to your topic. Non-stop copy gets monotonous after a while. Provide some imagery to break it up and help keep people focused.
  7. Proof, proof, proof your copy! And then get someone else to proof your copy. When you give a presentation with typos and grammatical errors, you not only distract your audience, you make them question whether you really are the expert you seem to be.
  8. Summarize. Wrap up your talk concisely and restate your main points at the end. Make it easy for your listeners to “get” the main takeaways of your presentation.
  9. Give some thought to what you want them to do. Would you like your listeners to take action of some kind? Know in advance what that action is. For example if you’d like them to go to your website and take a survey, tell them so and provide a deadline and incentive for them to follow through.
  10. Give handouts. This is especially true for presentations to external audiences. Useful takeaways help listeners remember and apply your messages, and they give them an easy way to follow-up with you.

(C) Copyright Barbara Wayman 2010

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