These days it seems that every business presentation you go to has to have a PowerPoint slide show.  While PowerPoint is a great presentation aid for delivering a message, if you’re not careful it will smother what you have to say.  PowerPoint should improve your message, and not become your message.  PowerPoint is about making it easier for your audience to understand and accept your message.  It’s  not about showing off how clever you can be.  Below are a few points to keep in mind when you next need to use PowerPoint.

  1. Should you use PowerPoint?  Not every message should be put into a PowerPoint presentation.  if you are considering using PowerPoint ask yourself if it will help your audience understand your message.  If it wont help, be different and don’t use it! 
  2. Don’t let the PowerPoint presentation be a substitute for knowing your message:  Don’t fall for the trick of reading the slides to deliver your message.  If you simply read your slides, your audience will read them too. They will read ahead of you and blank out what you are saying.
  3. Minimise visual distractions:  Everytime your audience sees movement on the screen they will look at it. If they are paying attention to the screen, they are not paying attention to you. 
  4. Just because PowerPoint can, does not mean that you should:  PowerPoint is fun to play with and can do some amazing things, but that does not mean that your audience wants to see it.  After they have seen the first slide fly in from the right, the heading type itself out and the bullet points twirl in from the distance they will become tried of it.  If your doing it to keep them entertained, can I suggest that you should look more closely at your content.
  5. Use contrasting backgrounds:  Make your background 1 solid colour and choose a font colour that can be easily seen against it.  If your audience has to struggle to see the text they will have trouble reading it.  If you make regular presentations to clients consider getting a professional template made.  Standard Microsoft templates stand out!
  6. Know and use the ‘B’ key:  When you no longer want the audience to see what is on the screen simply press the ‘B’ key and this will turn the screen black.  When there is nothing to look at, they audience will pay attention to you.  This is what you want. When you want to move to the next slide, simply press the space bar or click as you normally would.  The ‘W’ key has the same affect and turns the screen white.
  7. If you are going to use a laser pointer, have a reason to use it:  The reason you have a laser pointer is to point out specific things.  If you are using a pointer to simply point to the words that you are saying, what message are you giving about your audience?
  8. Moving from slide to slide is easier than it looks!  There are many ways to move forward with slides.  Pressing the left button on the mouse is the most obvious.  But did you know that the left and right arrows will move you around the slides too, as will the space bar.  If you want to go to a specific slide, simply type the number in and press the enter key and you will go there.  You can get a ton of other tips by pressing the ‘F1″ key!
  9. Never skip a slide!  If there are slides in your presentation that you don’t want to use, hide them from your presentation before you get up to speak.  If you are standing in front of the audience and you skip 2 slides, the audience will wonder what was on those slides and wont pay attention to what you are saying.  This will brake your connection with the audience and ruin your credibility.
  10. Limit the number of slides:  For those old enough to remember your aunties slide show of her trip to Europe you will know why you have to minimise the number of slides you use.  If you weren’t around in the 70’s and don’t know what a slide show is consider yourself lucky!
  11. Get to the point:  As with any type of presentation, you need to get to the point ASAP.  After all, time is in short supply these days.

PowerPoint is a great tool that can help you deliver your message.  Just don’t let it become your message.

‘Til next time.



Posted in PowerPoint, public speaking, public speaking courses, public speaking tips, Understanding your audience

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