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5 Essential Powerpoint Presentation Tips


Robert Henke at DB FestivalYou’ve been tasked with the creation of a live presentation.

With so much content, so many themes, options, and transitions, it is easy to get off course. Don’t lose your audience when you finally get in front of them.

Presentations are about telling stories. Could your storytelling use a pick-me-up? Here are five super easy tips for presenting with impact and clarity.

1. Present, Don’t Just Powerpoint

Remember that you are going to create a compelling experience for your audience when you set out to do so. If all you intend is to show slides, you’ll also succeed in that. Starting with a purpose gives your presentation the foundation it needs to captivate attendees. When you are putting together your slide deck, be thinking about what you will be saying before you spend all your time working on the slide. People want to know you more than they want your information. If you position yourself as an authority on the subject matter, your audience will follow suit. But you can’t be commanding attention when you are referring to your slides all the time. Think of your Powerpoint presentation as the scene backdrop to your topic at hand. Let it be the frame that you use to explain a subject. The less you offer on the page, the more you have to deliver.

2. The Power of Images

Photos and graphics have the power to speak 1000 words before you even open your mouth. When selecting images to use as a part of your presentation, I default to a short list of qualifying questions that tell me which ones are the keepers.

  • Is this of visual interest?
  • Will it keep the audience engaged?
  • Does it add necessary information?
  • Will it solidify an abstract point?

Make sure that you aren’t filling space with distracting imagery. It is a desperate move.

3. Design Consistency

There was this time I watched a speed pitch where the presentation looked like a collage from a middle school art project. Each and every slide had a completely different style! The themes were different, the test and headers, colors… all a mess. The idea this person was going for was an eclectic representation of all of the parts of their pitch. What came across was a disjointed aesthetic that lost recognition from the very start.

Don’t fall victim to the plethora of options. Your design should be clean and simple and should remain consistent across the entire presentation. The best slide decks have headers with company logos and frames that align with company colors. They look a lot more like a web page or brochure than a document. Images are carefully placed within the context of the presentation, literally and figuratively.

4. Turn Off Your Screen Saver!

This is the one that gets you when you least expect it. You’ve flown across the country, spent the entire last night reviewing information in your hotel room, and you plug your laptop into the AV system thinking, “it’s all down hill from here.” Then three minutes into your opening, the projection screen fades out into a slideshow of My Pictures. The family dog looks spectacular on your dual 12ft projection screens!

Go into your computer’s preferences and make sure to set your screen saver and all energy settings so that your computer doesn’t drop out of your presentation mid-sentence. Do this before you eat breakfast. In fact, do this now if you think you’ll forget.

5. Color Outside the Lines

Remember that this is your show. You get control of how this turns out, so make it your own. Challenge yourself to do something original each and every time. Spend your time trying to find inventive ways to deliver the message. Your format will be the biggest difference in a boring or breathtaking presentation.

Focus on your presentation and allow your Powerpoint to supplement it, not the other way around.

5 Essential Powerpoint Presentation Tips

Tony Gavilanes