Presentations and slide decks are part and parcel of many of today’s jobs. Many of us spend hours upon hours designing slides, writing presentation notes, or reading other people’s slides while trying to focus on what they are saying. PowerPoint has become ubiquitous in office and lecture theatres worldwide and, unfortunately, we are all well aware of just how dull (I’m attempting to be kind here) some PowerPoints can be.
So in the hopes of offering some advice on this topic, we have compiled some easy-to-follow tips to improve your PowerPoint presentation.
PowerPoint is not the most interactive way of presenting information or running a meeting. A common complaint is that people feel left to one side while a presenter stands up in front of the room and eulogizes on a given topic. Interacting with the room is the best way to break down barriers, open the lines of communication, and bring more ideas and opinions to the table.
Thankfully there are ways for us to break down this barrier and make the experience better for both presenter and audience. Plug-ins can be used in conjunction with PowerPoint to engage an audience. Our PP plug-in lets presenters add interactive slides specifically designed to ask audience members for input in the form of questions, quizzes, and Word Clouds.
We dig into this a bit later on, so click here to see how you can make a PowerPoint interactive in a few simple steps.
Think firstly about who you are presenting to when designing your slide deck. What is the group’s demographic, knowledge level, and tech-savviness? Will they be ready and willing to digest a swath of written material? Would they respond best to some multimedia elements? Should you prioritize entertainment over educating?
Yes, you are the presenter and this is your time to shine. Bear in mind that a successful presentation depends on how your audience’s reaction and what they gain from the experience. So, better consider their needs and expectations; this will help you to design the presentation and the actual PowerPoint. Adjust the content accordingly and adapt it for maximum effect.
Speaking of content, the way you present the content on your slides should be another major consideration. The sight of white slides, inscribed with black Arial font will bore many of us to tears. The horror. Likewise, overly designed clip art title slides in some neon color will have us reaching for our sunglasses rather than our reading glasses.
PowerPoint is a tool for presenters, not designers. So keep a nice crisp design or opt for something you can find online that matches the tone of your presentation. Think of how you want people to view you and your presentation - Professional? Interesting? Funny? Once you have come up with that, then you can begin designing - but don’t go overboard!
Your slides don’t need to be crammed full of text like a college exam. I can picture the despair in the eyes of your audience if they glimpse 50 slides on the horizon. You can save time and effort by remembering that you don’t have to type out everything. Keep the most vital elements and the things you want to highlight on your slides. The rest you can print out and read aloud, write on flashcards, or memorize; that’s totally up to you.
There are a few schools of thought when it comes to content. There are both the 5/5/5 rule and the 10/20/30 rule. Both have potential benefits and I’ll give a brief overview of both.
When designing your PowerPoint slide deck, you should have, at most, 5 words per line, 5 lines per slide, and 5 text-heavy slides in a row. The aim here is threefold; Keep the wording on each slide concise, only have the essential information on each slide, and don’t overwhelm audience members with too much content.
These rules can be especially helpful if you struggle to cut unnecessary and superfluous information from presentations.
A PowerPoint presentation should have no more than 10 slides, take no more than 20 minutes to present, and have text bigger than 30 throughout. The goal is to keep presentations short and to the point, to limit the amount of written or visual content, and to keep a clear and easily legible design.
This rule is great for presenters with a tendency to overload people with info and who tend to ramble on a bit (guilty your Honor). Guy Kawasaki pioneered this idea and it is sure to benefit those looking for ways to boost their PowerPoint skills.
We mentioned the importance of interaction earlier on and while there are many plug-ins and tools you can use to help boost interaction, there are also steps you can take to do the same. Consider adding prompts within your slides designed to bring your audience into the fold of the discussion. Now in this scenario, you will probably be relying on hand raising and people having the courage to speak up, but no matter.
Text, charts, graphs, images, videos; there are countless forms of content that you can include on slides (please avoid clip art). Mixing up the content on the screen will help keep attention and engagement levels high while allowing you to show off everything you know through different mediums. Let a graph do the talking for you, let a video highlight the campaign, or use a series of images to showcase what the designers have in mind.
We mentioned how easy it is with Mentimeter to give your trusty PowerPoint a much-needed injection of interactivity. Well, there are two ways you can go about this. Either you can add some Mentimeter slides to your PowerPoint, or you can do the opposite and import your good old PP slides to Menti. Variety is the spice of life, after all.
I’m going to be a little lazy and direct you to my colleague Oscar who walks through the actual ins and outs of how you can use Mentimeter in conjunction with PowerPoint.
On the other hand, I will explore some ideas on how you can transform your static PowerPoint presentation into a fun and interactive experience for everyone!
The easiest way to add interactivity to your slides is to start the presentation with an icebreaker. The purpose of an icebreaker is to get your audience engaged and ready for the presentation ahead.
Word Clouds, Polls, and even a quick quiz can be perfect icebreakers, but you don’t have to sit around all day trying to come up with your own; we’ve designed plenty that are ready to download. I’ve also included one of our most popular here.
You will probably find natural breaks during your presentation, for example, when you change focus area. This can be an opportune time to add an interactive slide to test your audience or open up the room for discussion.
Quizzes can serve multiple purposes; from better understanding what your audience does and does not know, assessing whether the group is retaining information, or just simply adding in a bit of fun to build team spirit.
As before, there’s no need to worry about going and creating a bunch of questions and designing slides, we have some ready-to-use templates for you.
The end of your presentation is the ideal point to reflect or ask for some feedback. Allowing your audience to ask a question, respond to a poll, or just add comments, will help you better understand how your presentation went and what you can do to improve.
Q&A sessions don’t just let your audience take control of the speaking duties for a few moments but allow you to clear up confusion, clarify points, and go back over details that may have either been overlooked or misunderstood. Q&As also add a layer of transparency and openness to presentations.
So you have now taken the first steps toward running more efficient, effective, and (most importantly) inclusive meetings by improving your slide deck. But don't stop there! Today's meetings and presentations, whether they take place in university, board rooms, meeting rooms, or at conferences, are far from perfect.
See how Mentimeter can help you connect with your audience, alleviate presenter stress, and make presentations a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved!