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Making Slide Decks Shine

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on December 31, 2010

It’s rare to find a businessperson who doesn’t know how to use PowerPoint software. Using it well can be a different story. While a blank slide may seemingly offer a canvas for cramming in as much as you can, don’t yield to temptation. You can differentiate your presentations from the pack and showcase your proposals, reports, and results effectively by keeping the following tips in mind:

Show, don’t tell. To aid in comprehension, limit the concepts presented on each slide so they aren’t overrun by bullets. Use visuals that aptly illustrate your points.

Choose visuals wisely. Apply the three-second rule to diagrams and graphics: If they can’t be deciphered in that amount of time, nix them. Also keep in mind that clipart can look cheesy. Select graphics and images that are specific and meaningful to the points you’re making.

Avoid "over-animation." Animation is a key component of a high-quality presentation. However, gratuitous and inconsistent animation can actually reduce the impact of your presentation and even undermine your credibility. Instead use simple animation and make sure each one helps your audience follow your points more effectively instead of distracting them.

Effective delivery. Review your presentation beforehand in slide show mode to make sure everything functions correctly. If you’re presenting live, be sure not to read your slides verbatim. Instead, provide helpful details and examples to illustrate your points. Stand to the left of the projection screen and speak to your audience—not to the screen—making eye contact to ensure that your points are resonating.

Alternatively, if you’re using online presentation software to record your presentation, be sure to script what you want to say beforehand. Don’t, however, come across as if you’re reading it. Listen carefully to your recorded presentation—examining voice cadence, pace and animation timings—before you distribute it.

Andy Zimmerman
Vice-President, Product Marketing
Waltham, Mass.

Reader Comments

David Gerbino | Community Banker

December 31, 2010 12:43 PM

Not bad. PowerPoint and slideware tools really are not good tools to convey a lot of information and that point is often not mentioned. The tips here were simple and spot on. A good presentation is about the information presented and not the special effects. That point was made here. Heed it well. @dmgerbino

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