Here are a few tips to help you build a PowerPoint presentation your audience will appreciate.
1. START BY ASKING YOURSELF THESE 2 QUESTIONS
Answers to these questions should serve as a guide while you prepare your presentation.
- Who will be attending?
Are you presenting to your team or your VP? How much do they know about the subject already? You may want to insert a bit more details for your colleagues who already have a certain knowledge on the subject. Your VP on the other hand, is most probably interested in hearing about the quick facts you can provide: impacts, risks and challenges, revenue/costs figures and recommended solutions.
- What is the purpose of the presentation?
Is it simply to share information? Or are you aiming for a decision to be made? This should serve as guidance on the type of content you need.
2. TAKEAWAY FOR YOUR AUDIENCE
Identify 2 or 3 key points you want your audience to takeaway from the presentation.
3. DEFINE THE STRUCTURE OF YOUR POWERPOINT PRESENTATION
- Carefully define the main structure that’s needed in order for the information to flow logically. You’ll avoid losing time switching portions of the presentation around as you start working on the content.
- On a high level: Introduce the 2 to 3 key points as the goal of your presentation. Follow with the main content. Conclude by underlying how you just provided answers to the 2-3 key points you introduced your presentation with.
4. CONTENT AND FORMAT DESIGN
Take into consideration how much time you have available to give your presentation. Do you also need time for a question period? You don’t want to have to speak too rapidly to cover your material. Having to skip slides in the middle of the presentation is not the best scenario either…
- Minimize the length. Minimize the number of slides. A good portion of the content needs to come from you. The PowerPoint presentation is only a tool to support your message.
- Use the right font. Choose a font that’s easy to read. The font size should also be appropriate so that everyone in the room can follow easily.
- Lighten the text. Reduce the amount of text as much as possible. The text for each bullet should fit on one line.
- Vary with images. You want to vary the way you convey the information by inserting simple graphics to keep your audience engaged. Keep a good balance, you want to be creative but not overdo it.
Remember that while you may be a specialist on the subject you will be discussing, your audience — whether it’s your President, colleagues or a client — may not be. ‘Translate’ the information into easily accessible language so you don’t lose people’s attention. Be careful not to use too much jargon specifically related to the subject.
5. LAST BUT NOT LEAST — TO GET THE MESSAGE ACROSS
In the end, your audience is more likely to appreciate your presentation if you are comfortable while giving it. The best way to prepare and get confident that you know your stuff is to practice out loud a couple of times — ideally in front of someone at home or at work. And remember to speak slowly during your presentation.