I’m sure we have all been asked to deliver a PowerPoint presentation in our careers at some point or another. Since my public speaking class, it would appear that the number of presentations that I have created and have given has increased exponentially – most likely because of my newfound enthusiasm in this area. With this experience under my belt, I have detailed a few guidelines that I follow that may help with your next presentation.
Catering to Your Audience
The first question to always ask is: who will be attending your presentation? Once you know that, make sure that you are writing and delivering your presentation with them in mind. What information are they going to want? What questions might they ask? How will I keep them interested from start to finish? Being able to answer these questions will help you create an on-point outline and be prepared for those times that you may need to improvise due to questions.
Using the Rule of Sixes
If you haven’t heard of this golden rule, it’s pretty simple. Every presentation you create should not have more than 6 slides, 6 bullet points, or 6 words per point. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, so when I have a longer presentation with more content, I like to expand the rule to having no more than 3 sections. Click here to download an example PowerPoint that I created for a group project in a Business Analysis class.
There are a lot of reasons why this is such an important rule to follow. First, it has been researched that this is the most content that an audience member can comprehend while also listening to a speaker. Think of it this way, it’s impossible to multi-task while reading a novel; so don’t expect your listeners to. Second, having a limited amount of content will help prevent a read-aloud-session. Often times, if you just read the content on the screen, you’ll lose the attention of everyone listening. The purpose of the slides it to give a sneak peek as to what you are discussing.
Choosing Visual Aids
Statistically speaking, the majority of people in any audience are visual learners. That means you need to put some thought into what each of your slides will include. If you’re speaking about a lot of numbers or data, try to use a type of graph, either a pie chart or bar graph. Sometimes, the topic requires a visual representation of words. In this case, you’ll probably want to look at available SmartArt that has templates for lists, processes, cycles, and more.
Whatever you choose, the number one rule to follow is consistency. Make sure that all of your visual graphics have the same color scheme and design – this will cut down on distractions and give it a more polished looked. Finally, I hope this is already obvious, but please don’t use any clipart. And it may be a personal preference, but I tend to believe that Stockphotos should be eliminated as well.
Of course, there are many more tips that could be included in this list, however, these are my top three that have helped me time and again. I always start with understanding my audience, then create my outline and slides based on the rule of sixes, and finally add my visuals as a finishing touch. Overall, for me, this has been a recipe for success.