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28 Aug

10 Quick Steps to Better Presentations

Created by: 
Dan Alton

These quick tips will go a long way toward making your presentations stronger. 

Step away from the mouse.

Don’t open PowerPoint until you first have a clear understanding of the points you are making and an outline of how to make them.

What if you didn’t.

Some of the best speeches in our country’s history were just that–speeches, with no visuals.“I have a dream...;” “Ask not what your country can do for you...;” “Four score and seven years ago...;” “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall..;” were all delivered without the benefit of PowerPoint. Consider the power of the spoken word alone.

Beware of bullets.

PowerPoint encourages you to divide your thoughts into bullets–not always a good thing. This format discourages in-depth thought or discussion and presents information as factual when it may not be.

Less is more.

If you use slides, make them bold and highly visual with very few or no words. Remember, your audience is there to see you, not your slides. The minute you post a slide with a bunch of words on it you’ve lost your audience as they will start reading (and stop listening.) Practice restraint. Embrace simplicity. Use a few well-crafted graphics or words that reinforce the point you are making by talking to your audience.

Images have power.

Research shows that points made through visuals are more easily recalled than points made with text. If you are discussing pollution, you can show a slide of statistics or you can show a photo of a polluted river while you speak to your audience about the points found in the statistics. The second approach is much more effective.

Less is more, really.

Periodically in your presentation–particularly right before making a key point–consider having the screen go blank. This refocuses the audience back on you and creates much more impact when you show your next simple, highly visual slide.

Slides are not handouts.

The most effective presentations are short, impactful, persuasive overviews of a few key points. Projected slides are not a good medium for minutiae. Slides should be used to reinforce the points you make in your more detailed, well thought-out, well written handouts. Handouts should be distributed after your talk, not before, or your audience will be reading. Consider these magic words...“The details will be in the handouts.” You’ve just given your audience permission to listen to you.

Slides are not your teleprompter.

You will lose your audience’s interest by reading your slides. They can read faster than you can talk. Your slides should reinforce, not repeat, the points you are making as you speak to your audience.

Less is more. This time we mean it.

Audiences get restless after much more than 20 minutes. Leave them while they’re still engaged and interested. A short, well crafted, engaging, visually interesting presentation will have more impact than a longer detailed one, every time.

Talk to yourself.

Walk through your presentation alone a few times. You will find stumbling blocks, places to add points and places to take things out. Plus, as you rehearse you’ll become more familiar with the material, thus more confident–which makes a big difference.

For examples or to learn more, give us a call.