As you’re well aware by now, Microsoft PowerPoint is a versatile and powerful tool for creating compelling business presentations. The ability to create and deliver such presentations is more and more important in today’s business environment. They’re found everywhere, from the mail room to the boardroom, from sales presentations to conference calls. They’re used for training, general information, sales, marketing, planning, proposals and you name it.
PowerPoint’s versatility allows users to exercise their creativity in many different fashions. Its tools and resources are terrific:
- ▪ Colors
- ▪ Backgrounds
- ▪ Graphic elements
- ▪ Type styles and fonts
- ▪ Photos and other images
- ▪ Videos
- ▪ Animations and other multimedia
– all can be brought to the screen to add impact and interest. Business PowerPoint templates are available in standard, stock forms and custom-created too.
With so many tools at your fingertips, and so many factors to be considered in creating a presentation (or even a single slide!) it can be helpful to know and focus on the following five especially important core principles when building your business PowerPoint presentation.
1. Excellence of Content
Many users, when first introduced to PowerPoint, are fascinated by all of its multimedia capabilities. It’s easy to be dazzled by it all, and many novices and amateurs become bogged down in all the choices and options, trying to make the slickest, coolest presentations they can. While it is important to capture an audience’s attention, none of the slick, cool (or even very elegant) effects will matter if the content itself is bad. So don’t get caught up in the flashy before you’ve made sure your content is interesting, accurate, informative, compelling and prepared with professionalism.
2. Appropriate Text Length and Formatting
Another PowerPoint basic is keeping your text and bullet points on slides simple and short. In the first place, there just isn’t much room for text on any given slide. It’s also highly unlikely your viewers are going to be inclined to read through a lot of text on slides – even if they’re able to see it clearly! Choose your text wisely and make it as brief as possible: make every word count. Remember, too that a PowerPoint is usually given as a presentation – that means someone is going to present it (even if only as a voice-over), and every word the presenter says does NOT have to be written out on the slides.
It’s just as important to properly format each slide in such a way that any text can be seen clearly, and so that there is a sense of uniformity, continuity and appropriateness through the whole presentation. Unique touches and visual surprises can be very effective, but use them with discretion.
3. Compelling Graphics and Images
One of PowerPoint’s greatest advantages is that it is so very visual. This factor can’t be taken for granted, though. Many members of your audiences will have seen a lot of PowerPoints, so for your visuals to have much impact, they must be well chose, well presented – and ideally, they should be fresh. Using the same old stock graphic elements, photos and clip are that every other presenter has been using just makes your presentation look generic and boring. One way to avoid being same-old, same-old is to use graphics and images from an online provider, such as Slideshop.com . Though there are quite a few presenters making good use of Slideshop and sites like it, the vast, vast majority are still relying on stock elements that come with PowerPoint, or downloaded from Microsoft. Don’t be part of that herd.
A note of caution: Though it can be effective in small doses, avoid the temptation to rely too heavily on animating your text. This will prolong the presentation, and sometimes pull audience attention away from the topic. Try to minimize distractions.
Another tip for graphic and image use: Experiment with PowerPoint’s formatting tools. Double click an image and you’ll find formatting options you can chose from. Check out the picture effects button, and experiment with its choices for presets and reflections.
4. A Great Delivery
All the hard work that goes into making slides will be almost useless if your delivery is mediocre.
- ▪ Practice the presentation over and over again until you feel comfortable and confident.
- ▪ Relax!
- ▪ Deliver the presentation in a natural, conversational tone (but don’t mistake “natural and conversational” for laid back and sloppy).
- ▪ Be INTERESTED: interested in what you’re presenting AND genuinely interested in each member of the audience. If you’re obviously interested and engaged, they’re far more likely to be, too.
- ▪ Maintain good eye contact with the audience. (That’s part of being interested.)
- ▪ Keep good posture. Practice this point in advance.
- ▪ Don’t read your presentation from your slides. Know what you’re going to say, and then say it to the audience as if you had never said it before.
- ▪ Be spontaneous.
One great way to polish your delivery of a business PowerPoint presentation is to record yourself giving it (in a practice session). Easier than ever to do these days, with video cameras and smart phones so common. Go back and watch the recording, looking for ways to improve.
Another smart way to improve your presentations and delivery is to take advantage of others’ experience and expertise. There’s quite a lot of both condensed into the book, Slide Satisfaction. It’s well worth checking out!