During many years of attending conferences, I am still surprised to see how many presentations even of experienced managers do differ from the fundamentals of presenting that are being taught in business schools and alike. Let me share my personal guidelines with you when preparing PowerPoint presentations.
Chose a modern design, if you create a PowerPoint looking like in the 90´s, the expectations of your audience will be influenced negatively. There are plenty of free modern PowerPoint designs available.
Choose a background and a font colour that are contrasting each other. The more contrast between background and font, the better the readability. The same applies to the design of the chosen font. Make sure the font is easy to read, even from a good distance (e.g. in a conference hall).
After having chosen the design, it’s time to structure the presentation. I use the following structure in my presentations:
– Welcome Slide
Including the presentation title, date, author, company and/or the event.
– Agenda Slide
Showing the content of the presentation in bullet points
– Chapter Slides
Especially useful when holding longer presentations. Adding a slide with a header of the following chapter/topic. Helps to switch between different chapters.
– Summary Slide
For short and medium sized presentation one summary slide will do at the end of the presentation. Make sure you only use bullet points again to communicate the main ideas. For long presentations still try to keep the summarizing slide on one page, if the content is too big, switch to a single summarizing chapter slide at the end of each chapter.
– Thank You Slide
Thanking your audience for listening with this slide will help you to switch from the official presentation to the question and answer phase.
Less is More
Do not use too much text, try to summarize your overall thoughts in bullet points. A presentation should guide your audience through your verbal presentation, the slide itself should only contain the essential thoughts. The amount of text does also influence the font size and as such the readability.
Especially through longer presentation, the audience’s attention naturally fluctuates. Adding images, charts, graphs, etc. can help to regain attention as visuals are easily to comprehend. Make sure the images are easily to read even from a distance.
Try to create a story, built of different chapters, as the content of your presentation. Often it helps to formulate the presentation title as a question. This way you can easily set up different chapters in the form of a story around the central theme of the presentation to answer the question.
Connect with your audience. If you have the possibility, don’t stay at the presenters’ desk. Try to walk around the stage and get in eye contact with your audience in all areas. Try to use your hands to make gestures. Body language helps to keep the audience’s attention high.
Please feel free to share your experiences with us too!