There’s an easy trick to assess the value of a PowerPoint presentation: stand next to a slide. If it is prettier than you, then you got it wrong.
A slide is but a tool, like a pen, with which you, the presenter, will put your signature on the presentation. You may wield the finest Mont Blanc quill, but in the end, it is your signature on the credit card slip that lets you take home your prize.
That said, you still don’t want to have your public escape the venue of your show in a paroxysm of terror at the sight of your visual aids. Remember: put your stamp, not stampede, on the speaking engagement.
A slide should then simply be a snapshot, a fond reminder of a moment in time upon which you will rely to relay an interesting story. It should not overwhelm with details, it should not require interpretation, or span over multiple events, multiple memories.
You are the hero in this war against tedium, armed with your wits and charisma, so trim your presentation to the essential landmarks to wind your path through the performance.
Text-only slides must go; discard superfluous ones and those requiring long explanations, or a microscope to discern. Have them be concise, relying on key words rather than rambling sentences.
Think of the individual slide as a game of Russian roulette: fewer bullets make for more excitement, and reduce the mess.
- Ensure whatever you are showing is germane to the presentation and grammatically sound
- Adopt darker backgrounds with brighter foreground elements
- Use large sans-serif fonts and images that add depth and support your concepts
- Avoid clipart and line drawings
- Do not use copyrighted material, distracting details, and kitchen sinks
- Spend a few minutes setting up your templates to avoid hours of regret when having to apply global changes on dozens of slides.
- Be consistent with colors, styles, fonts and general aspect throughout the presentation.
Above all, you be the star; shine! Have the audience point at you to find their way to the safe harbor of your knowledge. It is you they came to see, not your unwitting support of Microsoft.
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