PowerPoint Presentation Pizzazz
By Chelse Benham
"Begin at the beginning" the King said, gravely, "and go on till you come to the
end; then stop." Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
Presentations are a staple in the business world. Presentations come in nearly
as many forms as there are life situations. In the business world, there are sales
presentations, informational and motivational presentations, first encounters,
interviews, briefings, status reports, image-building and training sessions.
Presentations can also be categorized as professional and non-professional. In
addition, they are expository or persuasive. And they can be impromptu,
extemporaneous, written or memorized.
“You have to make a lot of presentations out in the business world and in life.
The number one piece of advice to remember is the presentation is a backup,”
said Lourdes Servantes, placement specialist at The University of Texas-Pan
American’s Career Placement Services Office. “Many people try to use the
presentation to take the attention off of them and forget they should be the focus
of the information.”
At email@example.com some expert PowerPoint ideas are
offered that could make your next presentation exciting. Every presentation has a
beginning, middle and an end. It may seem obvious but if you follow this
approach it should make your presentation more thorough and concise. A clear
message is an understood and memorable message.
Starting a presentation - This is the most important part of the presentation and
serves two main purposes:
1. to state your thesis: What is the point of the presentation? And,
2. to tell your audience what the presentation will prove or accomplish.
There are a few options when starting your presentation. You can begin with any
of the following:
- A funny story (if humor is your thing - but avoid religious, sexual, sexist or racist
- A video clip, but if you use one, make sure that it is less than 60 seconds
- Unusual statistics about your industry or about your audience
- A cartoon
- Suspense (e.g. walk on with a cardboard box and place it in the middle of the
stage - but don't tell people what it is there for until the end of presentation when
you finally disclose its purpose)
The middle of a presentation - A good presentation technique is the rule of
three. The rule of three is based on the technique that people tend to remember
three things. In oratory it comes up all the time. Here are some examples:
"Friends, Romans, countrymen," "The good, the bad and the ugly" and "Blood,
sweat and tears." Think if there are only three points that you would like to leave
your audience with, what would they be? There you have the middle of the
presentation. All you now have to do is to think of ways of illustrating these points
and then you have the bulk of the structure of the presentation.
The end of the presentation - The end is more important than the beginning.
People remember the last thing that they are told. This particularly applies to
lists. So the ending of the presentation is important. Come full circle by restating
your thesis, recap on the three main concepts that you have put forward in the
middle section and state your solution. Leave your audience with a “call to
Visual presentations are great – they are one of the best kept secrets in the
business world. PowerPoint can be a very powerful tool and one of the best ways
to convey your ideas and to convince your audience. However, there are a
number of traps that people fall into. At www.bitbetter.com some of the deadliest
sins of power point presentations are listed. Here are just a few:
• Using bullet points. Lots of presentations use bullet points. While they
are fast and easy to use, they are a poor way of getting your message
across. According to research carried out at UCLA, a visual presentation
is five times more likely to be remembered after three days than a
presentation using just bullet points. Also, make each bullet point appear
individually. You don’t want your audience to read ahead of you.
• Using Clip Art. It’s an idea behind its time. Clip Art used to be a great
way of making a presentation visual now looks very dated compared to a
• Grainy pictures. A lot of visual presentations are let down by the use of
grainy images. Generally images taken from a web page and increased in
size look grainy. The problem is that since they were saved as small files
to make them load quickly, they do not enlarge well.
• Copyright theft. It’s so easy and so tempting just to lift an image off the
web. But you must obtain the permission of the copyright owner before
you can use any image. Often this is obtained simply by sending an email
to the web master. If you don’t, you could easily end up with legal
proceedings against you.
• Images purely for decoration. A picture is worth a thousand words. So
why would you slap down any old image just to fill up a bit of space? The
image should help to tell your story.
• Video clips that are too long. It is very tempting to add in a video clip
into a presentation. The difficulty is that an audience’s attention span
when watching a video is very short. The audience will typically start to get
twitchy after around 60 seconds and start to switch off after two minutes.
Now that you know the deadliest sins, firstname.lastname@example.org offers
some tips to improve your presentation.
• Add in pictures. Nothing improves a presentation like the addition of
pictures. According to research of information that we receive during a
presentation 55 percent is visual. Use pictures that relate to your
presentation. These can be scanned in or found online.
• Use the right fonts. Verdana is a great title font. Arial or Tahoma are
very clear for use in presentations. Comic MS can work if you want to be
lighthearted, but can show signs of insecurity. Avoid Times New Roman -
this is best for print.
• Start your presentation with a quotation. You can find lots of quotations
on the Internet.
• Produce an unusual statistic. It could help build some connection with
the audience. For instance, 93.7 percent of statistics are made up on the
spot. Be sure to quote your reference.
• Avoid the jargon. Don’t use expressions or acronyms that aren’t widely
• Involve the audience. Make the presentation interactive - if you can.
Remember the motto: "Tell me and I will forget, show me and I will
remember, involve me and I will understand".
• KISS. No - not kiss the audience - Keep It Simple Stupid. Reduce your
presentation to simple concepts and your audience should be able to
• Don't use PowerPoint sound effects. It may seem funny to have
applause at the end of a slide, or a screeching sound for a new bullet
point, but it will get old very quickly.
• Check out the room before your presentation. Make sure the room has
everything that you need and make sure the presentation works on the
• Have a back up plan. If you have your presentation on a laptop, back it
up on a CD ROM and carry a hard copy with you. Take a spare power
lead. Plan what to do if the projector breaks down.
• Check your appearance. You will be on display. Your audience will be
looking at how well you are dressed. Take a spare tie or pantyhose. You
don't want a gravy spot on your tie or a run in your hose that will cause
you to be self-conscious before you speak.
• The eyes have it. Maintain good eye contact with the audience. Don't
keep contact with only one group of the audience. Spread your attention
around the room.
• No-one ever complained of a presentation being too short. Long
presentations can turn the audience off. Keep it short and concise.
• Always leave handouts. You have gone to a lot of effort to produce your
presentation. Leaving handouts will reinforce your messages, and will help
them to remember your presentation when they look at them again.
Always include your contact details so that the audience can contact you.
• Memorize your speech. Do not read from your notes, unless you have
frozen or not prepared. It will sound flat and stilted. If you have learned
your speech it will sound natural and you will even have the chance to ad
lib, if the opportunity arises.
• If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. This is one of the biggest
mistakes. People think that they can "wing it", but in reality those who
appear to be "winging it" are often very well prepared. Off the cuff should
mean well planned.
“It takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” - Mark