A Point of Power

You’ve cleared your agenda, booked the room, scheduled the meeting.  There is a topic to present, and certain people will be your captive audience for roughly an hour.

Now what?

There are those who view PowerPoint presentations as an evil torment; designing, writing, witnessing – all equally evil.  And they have a point.  Too many slides, too many flashing transitions and animations, too small print, and then (gasp of horror!) the presenter simply reads off the screen, verbatim.  It’s an awful fate for any topic to end up in a presentation like that.

Enter stage left – guidelines to get you through creating a PowerPoint people will actually stay awake for.

  • Fade through black.  That’s it.  That’s as fancy as you should get.  Yes, there are fancy options like honeycomb and glitter, but who is going to take what you have to say seriously when you use them?  If you can’t stand Fade, then pick an equally sedate transition and stick with it throughout the entire presentation.
  • Keep it simple.  About 10 slides.  Long enough to state your topic and expand upon it so the audience can take something away from the meeting, but not so long as to confuse them with extraneous information.  And for pity’s sake, don’t use Clip Art or Animations; that’s for school children.
  • Keep it short.  About 20 minutes in total, not including discussion time.  You want your audience to be awake and interested, not bored and irritated.
  • Make it readable.  The person at the back of the room has just as much right to the information as the person in the front row.  Don’t make anyone have to squint to read your slides.  A font size less than 30 is bordering on making your work more of a report to be printed out than a presentation to be viewed.  Your slides should have short points you expand upon from your notes, and simplified charts and graphs.  Nothing intricate or über-detailed.
  • Make it interesting.  Do not, I repeat, do not, under any circumstances, just read what the slide says and leave it at that.  There is a section in PowerPoint for Presenter’s Notes.  Learn how to use it and use it well.  Rehearse your notes, out loud, not just in your head.  Maybe involve a kind soul to listen to you (and suggest possible improvements) as you get the material down so you’re not nervous.  Talk slower than you want to.  Move your eye contact throughout the room as you speak.  Vary your vocal patter; a person droning on at the front of the room is interesting to … um, …well, ….ah, …..absolutely no one.

There you have it!  A quick overview of how to approach your next Power Point presentation.

I know it’s a bit boring without the bells and whistles, and people won’t leave the room talking about the cool transitions and animations you incorporated; they’ll leave talking about what you presented.

Which is kinda sorta the point.

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