PowerPoint presentations are often criticized for being boring time wasters. They often are. But despite their shortcomings, PowerPoint presentations are still the mainstay of business meetings everywhere. The good news is that with a little work, just about anyone can become a better PowerPoint presenter.
Here are 6 tips you can use the next time you’re tapped to make a presentation:
1. BE CLEAR AND CONCISE
Remember the cardinal rule of communications - be clear and concise. You have limited time to persuade your audience so it is important for you to to communicate your key messages efficiently. Presenting excess information will only bore and confuse your audience.
2. JUST BE YOURSELF
Strive to be as natural as possible while presenting. Relax. Use humor to capture the listeners' interest. Tell stories to build personal connections, and interact with your audience to keep their attention.
3. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Consider the listener in preparing the presentation. For example, if your audience is intimately familiar with the topic at hand, don’t waste their time reviewing the fundamentals. Instead, spend more time making your key points, and engaging with the audience.
4. DESIGN SLIDES CAREFULLY
Avoid the common mistake of using PowerPoint slides as if they were pages in a text document. Slides are best used to sum up essential points and help listeners remember them. Your slides should be simple, straightforward, and easy to read. Use visuals to emphasize key points and convey ideas or emotions. But leave cheesy clipart where it belongs – in the slightly embarrassing archives of PowerPoint presentation history. Instead, use good photographs, and well-designed infographics to lend impact to your presentation.
5. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
To be convincing, you need to be confident. Practicing your presentation is essential if you want to deliver a powerful presentation. You can practice alone in a room, or in front of a mirror. Better still, get someone you know to play the part of your audience and give you feedback. Ask them to simulate the conditions of the real presentation as much as possible. For example, have them interrupt you with questions, push back on your claims, and otherwise act as a real audience might.
6. SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP
If you’ve got a critical presentation coming up and find the prospect daunting, consider getting some help.