September 2nd, 2016
When presenting ideas to others—whether it is your coworker, a future client, or even a friend– it is important to make sure that your ideas are clearly understood and leave a lasting impression on the audience. Too often, people will quickly throw together a PowerPoint presentation with too many bullet points, cheesy clip art images, and terrible theme colors. Rather than focusing on the content, the viewer is left feeling distracted and uninterested.
The next time you create a presentation, be sure to follow these three tips:
Similar to a book, presentations should be introduced with a cover slide and finished with an end slide. This allows your content to feel complete and will guide the viewer through a clear beginning, middle, and end. Start with a cover page of a solid color, texture, or environmental photo with a subtle colored overlay. Avoid cheesy and overused theme presets if possible, as others will often use the same cover slides. Creating a unique cover and end slide will help your presentation stand apart. Then, you can introduce the title of your presentation, the date, and your name on top.
Once your presentation is over, provide a final slide with a “Thank You” and your contact information. The important thing is to make sure your viewer begins and ends the presentation knowing who you are, what you are talking about, and how to continue the conversation.
Presentations are meant to break your content and ideas into small digestible sections, so don’t overcrowd each slide with paragraphs of text. A good rule of thumb is to keep each slide to a maximum of four to five bullet points. If there is an entire paragraph on one slide, the chances of your audience reading every word are very low. But with an extra slide or two and a limited amount of bullet points per slide, the viewer can easily scan the content and will have a better chance of remembering it.
Similar to the text, imagery used on slides should be kept to a minimum to prevent distractions and overcrowding. And when you do decide to include a visual, it’s always best to keep it simple with one or two icons, a simple graph, or a photo. Consider purchasing a set of stock icons that fit the branding and messaging of your presentation so every icon feels cohesive and branded. If your presentation requires highly visual diagrams, break the information into separate slides to allow the viewer to fully comprehend one diagram before moving on to the next. When using a photo, make sure that it is not too overwhelming in comparison to the information.
A good tip is to create a visual “takeaway” slide that will break up endless slides of text. These can have a blurred photo that covers the entire slide and a single takeaway point or supporting quote.
Presentations serve a specific purpose of informing. However, sloppy visuals can be distracting to your audience. Regardless of who you’re presenting to, by incorporating the above tips, you can create the perfect presentation that is both visually appealing and easily understood by the viewer.