NoPowerPoint templates! The cookie-cutter approach has been seen hundreds of times to the point where you may lose your audience the second a familiar template comes up on the screen.
Keep it simple. Consistency with the basic elements such as font, colors, and background is essential to keeping the focus of the audience on the content of your presentation, not the presentation itself. Try to limit yourself to six words per slide. Avoid bullet points, use separate slides. You want your audience to listen to you, not read the slide behind you.Make sure your presentation is readable by using an appropriate font and size. Use clear legible fonts, sans serif fonts are best, and avoid making any text smaller than 32 point.
Use color. Blue is one of the most common background colors. It's calming and conservative. Studies have shown that blue has the power to slow our breathing and pulse rates.Green stimulates interaction. It's a friendly color that's great for warmth and emotion. Red is one of the most influential colors in your software palette, a great color for conveying passion or talking about the competition.Purple is often associated with royalty and wealth. Purple also represents wisdom and spirituality. It's a feminine color that is good for emotional or spiritual presentations. Yellow is the most visible color and is also the most attention-getting color. Yellow should be used in sparinglyto draw notice, such as key words or highlights, but not for entire backgrounds.
Use high-quality images. Images are meant to reinforce your ideas, but low-quality images are distracting and unprofessional. When using images, only use images that enhance the presentation.
Never use clipart, it’s cheesy and unprofessional. Both of these images were results for “teacher,” the one on the left being clipart and the one on the right from flickrcc.net.
Limit special effects. When used excessively, they distract from the message of the presentation and reduce professionalism. They should be used for emphasis, not entertainment.
Limit your number of slides according to time. If you start running low on time and frantically flip through your slides, the presentation completely loses its message and effect.
Did you notice “check” was spelled “cherk?” Did it distract you from the message of the slide, or annoy you with its irony? Exactly. Check your spelling and grammar. There is nothing more unprofessional that misspelled words and awkward sentence phrasing.
Show up early and verify that your equipment works properly. That way, any technical issues can be resolved before the presentation starts. Also, always have a back-up in the event of an emergency. Flash drives are your friend. Have one, and keep your presentations on it.
Long introductions about your topic immediately lose the audience. Capture their attention with the briefest of introductions so they wantto hear your presentation and don’t feel like the whole lecture was summed up in the first minute.
Be prepared. Often presentations flop because the presenter didn’t practice and consequently failed to convey their message.Be passionate. When you passionately communicate the significance of your subject, audiences pay attention.
Build a story. Presentations are boring if they simply consist of facts in no particular order.
Audiences pay attention to stories, but only if they are relevant to them or the presentation. Don’t get lost in your storytelling and forget that you’re giving a presentation to an audience that came to hear about one specific topic.
Nothing is more distracting than a presenter who skips all over the place. If you run out of time and need to skip a slide or two, that is ok. But going ahead three slides to see an image then going back ten slides to reiterate a point, etc. is disorganized and unprofessional.
Generally, leave humor to the professionals. If you know your audience well enough that you know what they will find funny and whether or not that works in your favor, you can bend this rule. But generally presenters who try to be funny end up with polite, uncomfortable laughter: the kiss of death to business presentations.
Do not read from the slides or speak to them. Your presentation is supplementary. If your talk could be conducted with just the presentation, there would be no point in your being there! Only provide key words, brief key points, or useful images through your presentation. If you read off of the PowerPoint, the audience will get bored, read ahead, and eventually ignore you altogether.
Have handouts for your audience. They won’t remember everything you said, and they may forget important details. Giving them a summary of your presentation is a great way to refresh their memory and make sure your presentation had the desired effect. However, give the handouts to your audience after your presentation. Otherwise they will read the handout and wonder what they’re still doing there if they have all of the important information at their fingertips.
Monitor your audience’s behavior and use what you learn to improve future presentations. For example, did your audience seem to be staring at your slides? If yes, they may contain too much data and be taking away from you. In the future, focus more on key words than whole phrases or sentences. Did they respond positively to the handouts or did they seem to think they were too long? Maybe some of the points on your handout are not as important as you thought and the handout could be more concise.
Best Practices in Presentation Design and Delivery
Best Practices in
Survey of Computer Applications
Dr. Stephen Ransom
November 22, 2013
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