Guide to PowerPoint DesignJune 29, 2009
Presentation Skills and PowerPoint
Recently someone asked me to put a Presentation Skills course together that included the use of PowerPoint and I thought that I’d put a “Twenty Point Guide to PowerPoint Design” here for everyone to use.
This is probably as good as an example of effective PowerPoint presentation as I’ve seen recently. Many thanks to James for letting me use it
1. Familiarise yourself with the technology. This means finding your way around the basics of putting together the presentation and how you’ll use the laptop/pc/data projector combination on the day. Bring a back up on stick or CD. Be prepared to do the presentation without the technology if something goes wrong.
2. You are your greatest audio visual aide. You may wish to encourage your audience to view your slides; however you will also want them to direct their attention back to yourself. The PowerPoint presentation adds value to your presentation – not the other way around.
3. Make sure the purpose is clear. Human beings are limited in the amount of information they can process at the same time. Have an idea about what your audience must know, think and believe at the end of the presentation and keep you’re your “must knows” limited to 7 – 9 points across your whole presentation.
4. Decide on your objectives and design your content and structure before your PowerPoint slides.
5. Remember that the presentation is all about you delivering what the audience will enjoy and learn from. Take full responsibility for the session. If you say something wrong – it’s down to you. If they don’t get it, it’s down to you too! Review everything from the audience perspective.
6. Be flexible. If the previous speaker overruns, you may be asked to shorten your presentation. Do not apologise and treat such inconveniences cheerfully. You may need to flick over slides – they won’t know.
7. The usual rules about presentations – forming rapport, stance, speech, managing nerves, clothes etc – still apply. I have seen some people hide behind their slides. On the other hand I’ve seen brilliant presenters electrify a large conference room without any technology.
8. Keep the slide numbers limited. It’s difficult make a rule about this but as a rule of thumb no more than 12 slides an hour. Some government ministries operate a 200 slides a day rule….
9. Keep your design simple. No more than one image to a slide. Keep bullet points to no more than 5 or 6. Give your most important point the best chance on the slide. You can talk around the subject but don’t feel that you need to put all this detail on the slide.
10. Keep it consistent. No more than 2 fonts in your presentation. Keep colours, font sizes, bullet points consistent throughout your presentation. Maintain one or two methods of slide transition throughout or better still don’t use anything too complicated.
11. Keep the design predictable, this limits the demand of the audience for unnecessary elements – unless you want to shock and then go for something completely different.
12. Don’t use slide transition sounds – they are a distraction unless used for particularly comic effect…once!
13. Use your branding. If you have a logo, use that and build your colour scheme around it. Put your name and contact details somewhere on the presentation, people will then remember your name and use it when they ask a question and can follow up with you later if the want to.
14. Think about the clarity of the slides. Many people say that they prefer darker backgrounds with lighter text. Use a large enough font. If you find yourself making the font smaller to get more on the slide, you’ve got too much on there. A good general rule is – as large and with as much contrast as possible.
15. Consider the accessibility of the material. Some of your audience may have sight difficulties and will rely on your voice. I once designed a text free presentation to a Chinese delegation that were having the presentation translated but didn’t think the problems this would cause the translators.
16. If you can, be imaginative with the images. I can’t help noticing that many standard PowerPoint clipart images now look a little hackneyed and dated. Try for something original. Ensure that anything you do use can be seen clearly from across the room.
17. Notice what works for other people. If you’ve spotted a presentation you like, make a note of what works. If it doesn’t work try to identify why. It’s interesting to note that we tend to remember the poor ones better than the good ones….
18. Don’t read from the slides. An oral presentation should focus on interactive speaking and listening, not reading by the speaker or the audience. The demands of spoken and written language differ significantly. Spoken language is shorter, less formal and more direct. Reading text ruins a presentation.
19. Many people like to have the slides to take away. I like to hand these out at the end as I like people to stay with me during the presentation and not run ahead by reading the slides I’ve yet to show.
20. Be prepared to break everyone of these rules! Wouldn’t it be dull if everyone was the same – experiment, be prepared to change, be yourself, ask for feedback. The cardinal rule is where I started – you are your best audio visual aide!!