The secret to effectively using PowerPoint, or any visual aid for that matter, while delivering a presentation is really about knowing your message and how best to communicate it to your particular audience. When used appropriately PowerPoint is a great tool for helping you communicate your message. So, how does one use PowerPoint effectively? Let's break our list of best practices down into two sections: developing PowerPoint presentations and delivering PowerPoint presentations.
Tips on developing PowerPoint presentations Always include slides for the presentation’s introduction and conclusion. Introductory slides communicate a sense of structure and make it a lot easier to listen. Treat the heading of each slide as valuable real estate. Make your headings specific and meaningful. The smallest letters on any slide should be at least 30 points. Any smaller and your audience won’t be able to read them. Slides always look better on your laptop than they do on the screen. Forget about subtle color variations. They won’t be visible on the big screen. Less is more. Use single words or phrases rather than sentences or paragraphs. Your bullet points are there to remind you what to talk about, not tell the whole story. As you mercilessly edit your slides, cutting away every word that is not absolutely necessary, say to yourself, “My slides are not a script. My slides are not a script.” There should be no more than 10 slides in the presentation -- very few people take away much more than one concept from a presentation, so all that other stuff is extra. The slide presentation should be designed to last 20 minutes, leaving room for ample questions/discussion between slides or after the presentation. Guy points out that the point of the presentation is typically to initiate a discussion. He says the font should be size should be no smaller than 30 (Arial font). Guy says that audiences read faster than you can talk, so that while you are up there talking, they are trying to read your slides and not listening to what you are saying.
Tips on delivering PowerPoint presentations Take the time to set up each slide. Your explanation of a slide should begin with an overview. Tell people what they are looking at—even if you think it’s obvious, even if it’s a list of bullet points. Pause as you move from one slide to the next. You might feel awkward, but you will sound great. Look at the slide when you want your listeners to look at it. Look at your listeners when you want to draw their attention away from the slide. Pointers—especially laser pointers—should be avoided. They’re hard to use and do not make you look more professional. Unless you’re in a very large room with a very large audience, you should move to the screen to point things out with your hands. As you deliver your presentation, especially when you’re deep into the body, assume that your listeners are thinking, “What does this have to do with me?” or “Why should I care?” This will remind you to keep your explanations short and relevant. Bottom line for using visual aids in your presentation is that their job is not to be the presentation (that's your job) rather, their job is to simply back you up as you engage your audience in a structured conversation. He says that there are something like 60 animation features within Powerpoint and he recommends the less use of it the better. His advice is to use your voice/body to emphasize when a point is important, not some fancy Powerpoint trick. The only place he recommends using any of this is in going through bullet points on a slide, presumably to avoid having people read ahead. Speaking of bullets, Guy suggests that bulleted slides should have one point with bullets and only one layer of bullets (lest you violate the 30 part of 10/20/30).
Bottom line for using visual aids in your presentation is that their job is not to be the presentation (that's your job) rather, their job is to simply back you up as you engage your audience in a structured conversation.
POWER POINT DO’S AND DON’T’S Nadia Jaramillo - PUCE