Do your PowerPoint slides help engage your audience…or just switch them off?
By David Rose, Director LACS Training Brussels
I came across a really pertinent quote recently that summed up my experience of sitting through lots of presentations…
How does this connect with your experience? Have you ‘suffered’ PowerPoint presentations over the years where your attention simply started to fade after a few minutes?
Unfortunately, this isn’t a rare occurrence. But why does it happen?
As I’m sure you’re aware, there are a wide range of specific skills that contribute to consistently effective presentations.
I’ve previously published a series of articles on these key ingredients: structuring, transitions & signposts, emphasis & pausing and body language [have a look if you haven’t yet done so].
However, even with strong, conscious command of these four techniques, you’re still missing a crucial element to avoid your audiences getting that ‘long’, ‘boring’ and ‘deadening’ feeling…
…appropriate and well-designed PowerPoint slides.
Question 1: Which role should PowerPoint slides take in your presentation?
Should slides be fully comprehensive ‘speaking notes’, short and simple bullet points or limited to one or two key messages only?
Worst case – they contain every word you are going to say, so you basically ‘read’ them to the audience, most likely with your back to them or standing side-on and therefore not making much eye contact… i.e. giving them every reason not to listen to you and either just read the slides themselves or switch off and read the (lengthy…) PowerPoint handout afterwards…
Best case – they summarise you main messages, with you ‘expanding’ on them orally while actively facing the audience and maintaining eye contact – so giving them a reason to listen, engaging them and keeping their attention.
Question 2: Which core guidelines should you follow in designing your slides?
There are six main steps to ensuring your PowerPoint slides provide the right platform for an effective presentation:
1) Making your main message clear through limiting content
2) Ensuring simplicity and consistency of layout
3) Choosing graphics carefully
4) Maximising graphs, charts and diagrams
5) Paying attention to colour, fonts and text size
6) Using animation selectively
So, let’s now take a look at each of them in turn: