Reports of PowerPoint’s Death are Greatly Exaggerated*

It’s become a joke to get up after a boring presentation and tell someone you experienced “death by PowerPoint”. But don’t think PowerPoint is going away anytime soon as a presentation format, despite what you read or hear.

In an earlier post we discussed the logistics of preparing for a presentation. In this post, you will find tips on how to create a PowerPoint presentation that will have people on their feet – applauding you and not heading for the door.

The Growth of Webinars

PowerPoint has no doubt grown in usage because of the huge popularity of webinars — for web-based seminars. Many presenters who are procrastinators find PowerPoint presentations easier to create last-minute than old-fashioned slides that required more work and a longer lead time.

Webinars have become the format of choice because participants can tune in from their desks without having to travel to your presentation. To your advantage, webinars have a long shelf life in the presenting organization’s searchable archives.

PR and advertising agencies are making many more presentations in the search for new business. Some are using webinar technology for their pitches to keep their travel costs down in this still soft economy.

Creating a PowerPoint Presentation

Well-designed slides can highlight your key points, add variety to your talk and capture your audience’s attention.

The biggest downside is that presenters cram too much information onto each slide. That is a surefire way to lose your audience – especially if they are at a computer and can simply click on “close the presentation.”

Put yourself in the place of your audience. Don’t overload them with information. Keep your content simple and consistent.

Communicate Key Concepts

Determine the best method of visually communicating each concept. Choose the most appropriate image, graph, diagram, or written text that will support your key messages.

For clarity, use:

  • Phrases with no more than six to eight lines of text per slide and no more than six words per line.
  • Bullet points so your key points stand out; no more than six per slide.
  • Graphics. A picture is truly worth a thousand words. If a large graphic makes the point, use one instead of a lengthy descriptive slide.
  • A bar graph to compare totals.
  • A line graph to show trends.
  • A pie chart to show percentages.
  • A table to display a large amount of data.
  • A simple serif type such as Cambria or Times Roman. Avoid unusual or distinctly fancy typefaces that detract from the presentation.
  • Upper and lower-case letters. All CAPS are not as readable.
  • Two or three colors on a contrasting background.

Branding Yourself

Don’t forget to brand your presentation. Your company logo should appear in the same place on every slide, including the opening slide and closing slide.

Include your contact information on the second slide to introduce yourself and on your final slide as your closer. This will include your phone number and email address, plus your social media handles for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and other social networks that are important to your audience.

After a live presentation, if appropriate, distribute handouts of the slides. For a particularly long presentation, prepare a summary document instead to give to audience members. At a webinar, invite listeners to download the presentation to their computers.

Following the Presentation

If you are giving an online webinar, confirm in advance that it will be recorded and available for future viewing on the presenting organization’s website. Many attendees may not be able to attend in person, so you want to be sure they have the opportunity to view it later.

Upload the presentation to your company website and to SlideShare or similiar service.

Remember that after you’ve finished your presentation you want your audience to feel they have heard from an expert – YOU.

Don’t disappoint them with poorly conceived slides that will leave them feeling they’ve experienced the dreaded death by PowerPoint.

   * with apologies to Mark Twain

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