Presentation tips to avoid death by PowerPoint

I am sure we can all cite countless examples where abuses of PowerPoint have turned a potentially interesting or informative presentation into something to be endured rather than enjoyed.

But when done right, PowerPoint can be a powerful tool that can assist in growing your business and generating sales.

In my business, barely a day goes by where I don’t prepare and present a PowerPoint presentation. Here are seven tips I have gathered and learnt over the years.

1. Create a simple template and stick to it

Having a consistent template for your PowerPoint presentations can save you prep time. Simply and easily drop content from previous presentations into your current one.

A clean white template with your company logo and space for the logo of the company you’re presenting to is usually effective. Your template should include layouts for at least a title page, a text and image page, a text-only page and an image-only page.

2. Avoid starbursts, animations and sound effects

PowerPoint makes it easy to jazz up your presentations with starbursts, images that swirl onto the screen and sound effects so it sounds like you are turning the pages of a notebook as you progress each slide. Ignore these features. They are gimmicks and don’t make for a stylish presentation.

3. Keep the words on yours slides brief

Your PowerPoint should be an aid for your presentation. It should not contain all the content of your presentation. Guy Kawasaki, an early Apple employee and an excellent presenter, recommends not using a font size any smaller than 30pt. Making use of a font size that big means you have to focus on having the right content on the screen.

4. Create two versions of your presentation

Create a second version of your presentation to leave behind or distribute as a digital pack.

This version should have more detail than the one you presented. The leave-behind version should be able to stand on its own without your commentary, giving anyone that was absent the detail they missed.

5. Know the power of the black slide

A presentation strategy my boss swears by is the use of the black slide. The theory is that while there is information on the screen the audience is focused on that and not what you are saying.

Insert black slides into your presentation when you’re making key points. This way the audience is focused only on you and what you’re saying. When you’re finished, present the information again on the slide in silence while you give your audience a moment to consume it.

6. Use SlideShare to extend the reach of your presentations

SlideShare is a free tool that allows you to upload and share your presentations on the web. This is the perfect place to upload your company credentials and other presentations you are happy to share publicly. SlideShare is a great tool for increasing your search engine footprint, potentially introducing your company to customers you didn’t know existed.

7. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

No amount of pretty PowerPoint slides will help you if your delivery is poor.

Practice your presentation multiple times before it needs to be delivered. Time your presentation. Invite people into your rehearsals and request critical feedback. Change things, add new slides and remove content that is redundant.

Practice, as they say, makes perfect.

READ: Six tips for great public speaking