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Effective use of powerpoint as a presentation tool

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  • 1. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool.
  • 2. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool.• Write a script.• A little planning goes a long way. Most presentations are written in PowerPoint (or some other presentation package) without any sort of rhyme or reason.• That’s bass-ackwards. Since the point of your slides is to illustrate and expand what you are going to say to your audience. You should know what you intend to say and then figure out how to visualize it. Unless you are an expert at improvising, make sure you write out or at least outline your presentation before trying to put together slides.• And make sure your script follows good storytelling conventions: give it a beginning, middle, and end; have a clear arc that builds towards some sort of climax; make your audience appreciate each slide but be anxious to find out what’s next; and when possible, always leave ‘em wanting more.
  • 3. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool.• One thing at a time, please.• At any given moment, what should be on the screen is the thing you’re talking about. Our audience will almost instantly read every slide as soon as it’s displayed; if you have the next four points you plan to make up there, they’ll be three steps ahead of you, waiting for you to catch up rather than listening with interest to the point you’re making.• Plan your presentation so just one new point is displayed at any given moment. Bullet points can be revealed one at a time as you reach them. Charts can be put on the next slide to be referenced when you get to the data the chart displays. Your job as presenter is to control the flow of information so that you and your audience stay in sync.
  • 4. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool• No paragraphs.• Where most presentations fail is that their authors, convinced they are producing some kind of stand-alone document, put everything they want to say onto their slides, in great big chunky blocks of text.• Congratulations. You’ve just killed a roomful of people. Cause of death: terminal boredom poisoning.• Your slides are the illustrations for your presentation, not the presentation itself. They should underline and reinforce what you’re saying as you give your presentation — save the paragraphs of text for your script. PowerPoint and other presentation software have functions to display notes onto the presenter’s screen that do not get sent to the projector, or you can use notecards, a separate word processor document, or your memory. Just don’t put it on the screen – and for goodness’ sake, if you do for some reason put it on the screen, don’t stand with your back to your audience and read it from the screen!
  • 5. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool• Pay attention to design.• PowerPoint and other presentation packages offer all sorts of ways to add visual “flash” to your slides: fades, swipes, flashing text, and other annoyances are all too easy to insert with a few mouse clicks.• Avoid the temptation to dress up your pages with cheesy effects and focus instead on simple design basics:• Use a sans serif font for body text. Sans serifs like Arial, Helvetica, or Calibri tend to be the easiest to read on screens.• Use decorative fonts only for slide headers, and then only if they’re easy to read. Decorative fonts –calligraphy, German blackface, futuristic, psychotic handwriting, flowers, art nouveau, etc. – are hard to read and should be reserved only for large headlines at the top of the page. Better yet, stick to a classy serif font like Georgia or Baskerville.• Put dark text on a light background. Again, this is easiest to read. If you must use a dark background – for instance, if your company uses a standard template with a dark background – make sure your text is quite light (white, cream, light grey, or pastels) and maybe bump the font size up two or three notches.• Align text left or right. Centered text is harder to read and looks amateurish. Line up all your text to a right-hand or left-hand baseline – it will look better and be easier to follow.• Avoid clutter. A headline, a few bullet points, maybe an image – anything more than that and you risk losing your audience as they sort it all out.•
  • 6. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool• Use images sparingly• There are two schools of thought about images in presentations. Some say they add visual interest and keep audiences engaged; others say images are an unnecessary distraction.• Both arguments have some merit, so in this case the best option is to split the difference: use images only when they add important information or make an abstract point more concrete.• While we’re on the subject, absolutely do not use PowerPoint’s built-in clipart. Anything from Office 2003 and earlier has been seen by everyone in your audience a thousand times – they’ve become tired, used-up clichés, and I hopefully don’t need to tell you to avoid tired, used-up clichés in your presentations. Office 2007 and non-Office programs have some clipart that isn’t so familiar (though it will be, and soon) but by now, the entire concept of clipart has about run its course – it just doesn’t feel fresh and new anymore.
  • 7. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool• Think outside the screen.• Remember, the slides on the screen are only part of the presentation – and not the main part. Even though you’re liable to be presenting in a darkened room, give some thought to your own presentation manner – how you hold yourself, what you wear, how you move around the room. You are the focus when you’re presenting, no matter how interesting your slides are.
  • 8. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool• Have a hook.• Like the best writing, the best presentation shook their audiences early and then reel them in. Open with something surprising or intriguing, something that will get your audience to sit up and take notice. The most powerful hooks are often those that appeal directly to your audience’s emotions – offer them something awesome or, if it’s appropriate, scare the pants off of them. The rest of your presentation, then, will be effectively your promise to make the awesome thing happen, or the scary thing nothappen.
  • 9. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool• Ask questions.• Questions arouse interest, pique curiosity, and engage audiences. So ask a lot of them. Build tension by posing a question and letting your audience stew a moment before moving to the next slide with the answer. Quiz their knowledge and then show them how little they know. If appropriate, engage in a little question-and- answer with your audience, with you asking the questions
  • 10. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool• Modulate, modulate, modulate.• Especially when you’ve done a presentation before, it can be easy to fall into a drone, going on and on and on and on and on with only minimal changes to your inflection. Always speak as if you were speaking to a friend, not as if you are reading off of index cards (even if you are). If keeping up a lively and personable tone of voice is difficult for you when presenting, do a couple of practice run-throughs. If you still can’t get it right and presentations are a big part of your job, take a public speaking course or join Toastmasters.
  • 11. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool• Break the rules.• As with everything else, there are times when each of these rules – or any other rule you know – won’t apply. If you know there’s a good reason to break a rule, go ahead and do it. Rule breaking is perfectly acceptable behavior – it’s ignoring the rules or breaking them because you just don’t know any better that leads to shoddy boring presentations that lead to boredom, depression, psychopathic breaks, and eventually death. And you don’t want that, do you?
  • 12. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool• PowerPoint, when displayed via a projector, is a useful tool for showing audiences things that enhance what the speaker is saying. It is a useful tool for illustrating the content of a speech, such as by showing photos, graphs, charts, maps, etc., or by highlighting certain text from a speech, such as quotations or major ideas. It should not be used as a slide- show outline of what the speaker is telling the audience
  • 13. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool• Slides used in a presentation should be spare, in terms of how much information is on each slide, as well as how many slides are used. A rule of thumb is to put no more than eight lines of text on a slide, and with no more than eight to ten words per line. In most cases, less is more, so four lines of text is probably better. Don’t display charts or graphs with a lot of information—if it’s useful for the audience to see such things, pass them out as handouts.
  • 14. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool• 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 they see these things, and these tricks add nothing of value to a presentation.
  • 15. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool• Above all, use high-contrast color schemes so that whatever is on your slides is readable. Unless you are a talented graphic designer, use the templates that come with PowerPoint or Keynote, and keep it simple—high concept design in a slide presentation doesn’t help in most circumstances, unless you’re in the fashion or design fields. If you use graphics or photos, try to use the highest quality you can find or afford— clip art and low-resolution graphics blown up on a screen usually detract from a presentation.
  • 16. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool• Rehearse your PowerPoint presentation and not just once. Don’t let PowerPoint get in the way of your oral presentation, and make sure you know how it works, what sequence the slides are in, how to get through it using someone else’s computer, etc. Make sure that you can deliver your presentation if PowerPoint is completely unavailable; in other words, make sure you can give your speech without your PowerPoint presentation.
  • 17. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool• Get used to using black slides. There are few speeches that need something displayed on the screen all the time. If you include a black slide in your presentation, your audience will refocus on you, rather than on the screen, and you can direct them back to the screen when you have something else to show them. Put a black screen at the end of your presentation, so that when you’re done, the PowerPoint presentation is finished and off the screen.
  • 18. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool• Concentrate on keeping the audience focused on you, not on the screen. You can do this by using slides sparingly, standing in front of the audience in a way that makes them look at you, and, if possible, going to the screen and using your hand or arm to point out things on a slide. If you expect to be using PowerPoint a lot, invest in a remote “clicker” that lets you get away from the computer and still drive your presentation. If you don’t have one of those, it’s better to ask someone to run the presentation than to be behind a screen and keyboard while you talk.
  • 19. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool• If you show something on a computer that requires moving the cursor around, or flipping from one screen to another, or some other technique that requires interaction with the computer itself, remember that people in the audience will see things very differently on the projection screen than you see them on the computer screen. Keep motion on the screen to a minimum, unless you’re showing a movie or a video. It’s better to show a static screenshot of a Web page, embedded on a slide, than to call up the Web page in a browser on a computer. If you want to point out something on a Web page, go to the screen and point at it—don’t jiggle the cursor around what you want people to look at: their heads will look like bobble-headed dolls.
  • 20. Effective Use of Powerpoint as a presentation tool• Don’t “cue” the audience that listening to your speech means getting through your PowerPoint presentation. If the audience sees that your PowerPoint presentation is the structure of your speech, they’ll start wondering how many slides are left. Slides should be used asynchronously within your speech, and only to highlight or illustrate things. Audiences are bored with oral presentations that go from one slide to the next until the end. Engage the audience, and use slides only when they are useful.