As I’m sure you know from bitter experience, poor presentations are very common. In fact, I’d say poor presentations are the norm, which means:
- A ton of time’s wasted.
- Speakers don’t achieve their intended outcome.
- Listeners don’t come away with what they’d hoped for, either.
- So, over time, organisations (both speakers’ and listeners’) achieve less than they could’ve.
What a huge knock-on effect from presenters not getting their message across well!
Now, you’ve likely noticed that poor presentations almost always have lots of bullet points. So you might naturally assume that to be an effective presenter, you should ban all bullets from your slides.
But if you think that, I’m here to tell you: You’re wrong.
When you build a deck of presentation slides, how do you keep on track? If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve sometimes felt pressure (from yourself or some-one else) to include more and more content.
You know, like:
- Background on your topic, even though most of your audience doesn’t care (or already knows it)
- Existing slides on your topic, but which were made for a different purpose
Here’s one great tip that’ll help you resist pressures like those, and it comes in just a
20-second video clip from experienced speaking-coach Jim Endicott:
As Jim suggests:
What does the term “modern-looking presentation” mean to you? Before you read on, see if you can think of your top 2 or 3 criteria that (to you) make slides look modern compared to all the rest.
To me, there are 3 essential tips that make your slides look like they belong in 2017 – rather than back in the 20th century! In fact those 3 tips make your talk not just look modern but also feel that way to your audience.
In outline, those 3 top tips are:
During your professional life, you’ve no doubt seen more slides with bullet lists on them than any other type of slide. The problem is, so have your audiences, too.
You can’t inspire a disengaged audience…
Because audiences see wordy bullet lists a lot, they’re disengaged by them instantly. And, despite your best efforts, you can’t inspire a disengaged audience to act on what you say!
So how can you use fewer bullet lists? Let’s work through an example to see what you could do instead, using this bullet-filled slide as a starting point:
This is what the slide will look like when you finish the makeover:
And here are the 5 steps you can use to complete that overhaul:
How many of your slides serve double duty? Let’s look at an example of what I mean…
Suppose you have a slide with several contact numbers and email addresses on it, like the one shown below:
Slides like that serve double duty because they’re both:
- Part of your slideshow during your talk
- Used for reference afterwards, because people won’t remember all the details
If people won’t remember what a slide says, why show it?
My question is, if people won’t remember what a slide says, why show it during your presentation at all? That needlessly burdens your audience, who don’t know what you expect them to remember (or what details you might give them a copy of).
By all means, include details like that in a handout for people to refer to later. But don’t overwhelm your audience with details during your talk.
Many presenters give their audience a copy of their slides to look at afterwards – in effect using their deck as their handout. But unless you’re careful, using your slide deck as your handout has 2 big problems:
Do you ever wonder which is the best font to use on your slides? If so, I’ve a simple answer for you:
Pick a font your
audience won’t notice.
(That is, unless you happen to be presenting to “arty types” – like graphic designers. In that case, pick a font your audience approves of. More on that shortly.)
If you use Articulate Storyline, you may well have used photographic characters, which let you insert a headshot or other cut-out photo of a person:
Even if you use PowerPoint, you might’ve inserted a very similar portrait photo with no background, as they’re available from many suppliers (like Elearning Art, Elearning Brothers, and Articulate Global itself).
This 2½-minute video shows you a quick, built-in way to give a photo like that a realistic background, so it looks like it was taken in an office.
In a recent post, I suggested changes you might make to this “before” slide, to make it look more professional:
That slide ended up looking like one of these “after” options:
But in that recent post, I didn’t show you how to make those changes. So that’s where this post comes in – the steps are in this 3-minute video:
Do you use a slide that introduces you as a speaker? (That is, with your name, contact details such as your company logo or Twitter handle, and often your photo on it.)
There are certainly good reasons to use that sort of slide:
- When you’re presenting online, if people can’t see you, having a slide with your photo on it helps people engage with you and your message.
- Even in a big in-person venue (with no video feed showing your face), putting your photo on a slide not only helps people engage, it also helps them approach you after you’ve left the stage.
I’m betting that if you do use that sort of slide, it looks a bit like the typical example below. (If it looks quite different, I’d love to hear from you in the comment box below or via @RemotePoss on Twitter.)
If your speaker slide does look like that, this post and a later one will help you make it look far better:
- In this post, you’ll see the changes that could make your slide look much more professionally designed, so you leave the best impression on your audience.
- In a later post, you’ll find video tips that step you through making those improvements in PowerPoint.
You might be thinking:
“What’s so awful about that slide?”
And if you are, you’re right – it’s not so bad. Yet it could be a lot better.
Let me show you what I mean, and then you be the judge. (Or, try out some of the tips in this post, and then let your audiences’ feedback be the judge!)
You’ll find the following topics covered in this post:
Do you want to highlight part of a photo or screenshot (or other picture) as though you’ve shone a spotlight on it? In this post, you’ll see just how to do that, with the 2nd in a short series of videos on using PowerPoint’s slide background fill option.