PowerPointwhen displayed via a projector, is a useful tool for showingaudiences things that enhance what the speaker is saying. It is auseful tool for illustrating the content of a speech, such as byshowing photos, graphs, charts, maps, etc., or by highlightingcertain text from a speech, such as quotations or major ideas. Itshould not be used as a slide-show outline of what the speaker istelling the audience.
Start by creating an outline The most important part of any presentation is the content, not the graphical appeal. That is why you should develop your presentation with the content first, before deciding on the look (colours, graphics, etc.) Create a good structure for your presentation by reflecting on the goal of the presentation, what your audience is thinking right now, and what points you need to make in order to move the audience from where they are to where you want them to be. Write an outline on paper or use sticky notes so you can move ideas around. By creating an outline first, you ensure that the content of your presentation is solid before you concern yourself with the visual elements.
Slides used in a presentation should bespare, in terms of how muchinformation is on each slide, as well ashow many slides are used. A rule ofthumb is to put no more than eight linesof text on a slide, and with no more thaneight to ten words per line. In mostcases, less is more, so four lines of textis probably better. Don’t display chartsor graphs with a lot of information—if it’suseful for the audience to see such
Use Contrasting Colours If you want your audience to be able to see what you have on the slide, there needs to be a lot of contrast between the text colour and the background colour. I suggest a dark background with light text – I usually use a medium to dark blue background and white or yellow letters. Some prefer a light background and dark letters, which will also work well - which you choose will depend on personal preference. Don’t think that just because the text looks fine on your computer screen that it will look fine when projected. Most projectors make colours duller than they appear on a screen, and you should check how your colours look when projected to make sure there is still enough contrast. To check that your colors have enough contrast, use the Color Contrast Calculator.
Unless you’re an experienced designer,don’t use the transition and animation―tricks‖ that are built into PowerPoint,such as bouncing or flying text. By now,most people roll their eyes when theysee these things, and these tricks addnothing of value to a presentation.
Use a big enough font When deciding what font size to use in your presentation, make sure it is big enough so that the audience can read it. I usually find that any font size less than 24 point is too small to be reasonably read in most presentation situations. I would prefer to see most text at a 28 or 32 point size, with titles being 36 to 44 point size. The only reason I would use a font less than 24 point is when adding explanatory text to a graph or diagram, where you could use a 20 point font size. If you are given a small screen in a big room, your font will look smaller because the image will not be as big as it should be. In this case, see if you can get a larger screen, use a wall instead of a screen to project on, move the chairs closer to the screen or remove the last few rows of chairs. Ive put together a chart that lists how far away the last row of your audience should be based on the size of screen, font size and visual acuity testing -use the Font Size chart here.
Above all, use high-contrast color schemesso that whatever is on your slides isreadable. Unless you are a talented graphicdesigner, use the templates that come withPowerPoint or Keynote, and keep itsimple—high concept design in a slidepresentation doesn’t help in mostcircumstances, unless you’re in the fashionor design fields. If you use graphics orphotos, try to use the highest quality youcan find or afford—clip art and low-resolution graphics blown up on a screenusually detract from a presentation.
Stop the moving text When text comes on the screen, we want the audience to read the text, then focus back on the presenter to hear the message. If the text moves onto the screen in any way – such as flying in, spiral or zooming – it makes it harder for the audience members to read since they have to wait until the text has stopped before they can read it. This makes the presenter wait longer between each point and makes the audience members focus more on the movement than on what is being said. I suggest the use of the "Appear" effect, which just makes the text appear and is the easiest for the audience to read.
Rehearse your PowerPoint presentationand not just once. Don’t let PowerPointget in the way of your oral presentation,and make sure you know how it works,what sequence the slides are in, how toget through it using someone else’scomputer, etc. Make sure that you candeliver your presentation if PowerPointis completely unavailable; in otherwords, make sure you can give yourspeech without your PowerPoint
Get used to using black slides. Thereare few speeches that need somethingdisplayed on the screen all the time. Ifyou include a black slide in yourpresentation, your audience will refocuson you, rather than on the screen, andyou can direct them back to the screenwhen you have something else to showthem. Put a black screen at the end ofyour presentation, so that when you’redone, the PowerPoint presentation isfinished and off the screen.
Concentrate on keeping the audiencefocused on you, not on the screen. You cando this by using slides sparingly, standing infront of the audience in a way that makesthem look at you, and, if possible, going tothe screen and using your hand or arm topoint out things on a slide. If you expect tobe using PowerPoint a lot, invest in a remote―clicker‖ that lets you get away from thecomputer and still drive your presentation. Ifyou don’t have one of those, it’s better to asksomeone to run the presentation than to bebehind a screen and keyboard while you
If you show something on a computer that requiresmoving the cursor around, or flipping from onescreen to another, or some other technique thatrequires interaction with the computer itself,remember that people in the audience will seethings very differently on the projection screen thanyou see them on the computer screen. Keepmotion on the screen to a minimum, unless you’reshowing a movie or a video. It’s better to show astatic screenshot of a Web page, embedded on aslide, than to call up the Web page in a browser ona computer. If you want to point out something on aWeb page, go to the screen and point at it—don’tjiggle the cursor around what you want people tolook at: their heads will look like bobble-headed
Don’t ―cue‖ the audience that listeningto your speech means getting throughyour PowerPoint presentation. If theaudience sees that your PowerPointpresentation is the structure of yourspeech, they’ll start wondering howmany slides are left. Slides should beused asynchronously within yourspeech, and only to highlight orillustrate things. Audiences are boredwith oral presentations that go from oneslide to the next until the end. Engage
Learn how to give a good speech withoutPowerPoint. This takes practice, which meansgiving speeches without PowerPoint. Believe it ornot, public speaking existed before PowerPoint, andmany people remember it as being a lot better thenthan it is now. A few people use presentationsoftware in extremely effective ways—Steve Jobsand Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig aretwo examples. Al Gore’s use of Keynote in themovie ―An Inconvenient Truth‖ was a good model.But these three examples don’t look at all like theway most people use PowerPoint. Avoiding badPowerPoint habits means, first and foremost,becoming a good public speaker.