Do's and Don'ts for Making PowerPoint Presentations
Let's take a look at how you can create a powerful and effective PowerPoint presentation every time.
1. Keep the information on each slide simple and to the point. Use bullets, not complete sentences, to convey your information whenever possible. Limit your slides to five lines of text if you can (words and phrases, not sentences). Slides are meant to give your audience the highlights or important points that you want them to learn and remember.
If you put too much information about what you want to say, you and your audience will end up just reading the slides. You don’t want your slides to be your entire presentation, as this will make it very boring. Anyone can read slides; your job is to expand on the highlights you present to teach your audience something new.
2. Is it OK to include long quotes or lengthy information in your presentation? Sometimes, you might have to include a long quote, definition, or other lengthy information to your audience. If you have a long quote or a definition, for example, that is important to your presentation and that can’t be broken up into bullet points, then you will want to present this information on a slide.You should either let your audience read it to themselves, or read it out loud using your notes, but not both. Don’t wait for them to read the information and then read it out loud for them.
3. Don’t overwhelm your audience with too many sounds or transitions on your slides. Too much technology during a presentation is not good.If you do include sounds in your presentation, make sure they are not creating a distraction to your audience. You don’t want your audience to spend more time trying to figure out what the sound is that they are hearing, rather than concentrating on what you have to say. In addition, too many fancy transitions from slide to slide may also distract your audience from the message you are trying to convey.
4. Introduce each slide with a brief statement to make your presentation flow smoothly. At the end of each slide, or at the beginning of a new topic, let the audience know that you are transitioning to the next slide by making an introductory statement.
Let's look at some examples: This next slide shows ___________ Now I would like to explain _____________ I’d like to briefly describe ______________
5. Aim for a font size of at least 28 when presenting to an audience. A font size of 12, which is what is typically use on a word processor, is meant to be seen up to 12 inches away. That’s a great font for you if you are sitting in front of your laptop, but much too small for your audience to see.A minimum font size of 28 should be big enough for your audience to see from a distance comfortably.
6. Create a back-up of your presentation on a CD, just in case you need it. Don’t depend on your slides alone.Technology is a wonderful thing, until something goes wrong. You never know when your computer might break down and you may need to present your slide show on another computer. Your back-up presentation will come in handy if you need to switch computers at the last minute.
7. NEVER read directly from your slides. Slides are meant to be guidelines when you give your presentation, not to read from. When you give your presentation, you should be talking to your audience. Anyone can read slides. Remember, it is always best to have the least amount of information on your slides, as they should be used as notes and not a written speech.
8. Practice, practice, practice. Being prepared for your presentation is very important. Your goal is to be able to present to your audience regardless of the type of technology that you are using.
First, practice your presentation several times without slides, so that you can memorize the information you want your audience to learn.
Next, practice your presentation using your slides and any written notes you might have.
Lastly, practice your presentation using your slides without any written notes.
8. Provide a hard copy of your slides to your audience. Your audience may want to take notes regarding important information included in your talk that includes important details or information. Providing a hard copy of your presentation will allow them the opportunity to have all of their information in one place to review later.
Another option is to include an appendix at the end of your hard copy, which includes all of the details of your slides. This way, your audience will have the information with them and can focus all of their attention on you rather than taking notes.