The rest of the audience wriggled, one person’s head dropped, I smiled as he woke up. The group looked bored and ready to walk out (including me). Business PowerPoint presentations can be good, but they need to be done well. This one was not and now we were in the advanced stages of “death by PowerPoint”. The speaker’s sole objective seemed to be showing off his “Microsoft PowerPoint” abilities, rather than present to us.

Powerpoint Presentation tips to improve your PowerPoint presentation skills

How many presentations have you sat through where you wished the speaker knew how to give a business presentation? PowerPoint is not normally as electrifying as the picture on the left! This article will give you 9 ideas to improve your PowerPoint presentations and prevent death by PowerPoint.

Death by Powerpoint?

Presentation software, like Microsoft PowerPoint, makes it easy to create slides. But a presentation is the meaning you add, not the slides you show. If somebody could have read your slides on email, rather than listen to you, change something- NOW.

Why are you presenting?

This is a fundamental point, use it to guide your use of every slide. You may also like to read Presentation tips: How to give a business presentation

Checklist for your PowerPoint presentations

Before you even think about using PowerPoint (or other presentation software) for your short presentation, ask yourself:

  • Do you really need it?
  • What will the presentation software add?
  • Are your slides to help you, or the audience?

Download our seven-page guide “Improving your presentation skills” , it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required).

Three reasons for doing PowerPoint presentations

  1. Visualise – Help your audience create visual linkage between your words and meaning.
  2. Stimulate – Stimulate them to think about and consider your points
  3. Highlight key points – Accentuate the important parts of the message

Three things most presenters use their PowerPoint presentations for

  1. Prompting – They use the slides to remember where they are!
  2. Handouts – If you’re doing slides so you can email them out – produce a document instead!
  3. Data dumping – They dump data on the screen to make themselves look clever or to be able to answer any question possible.
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough

I borrowed that from Einstein, who I am sure would agree that that making your subject seem simpler, will make you seem more intelligent!

Nine ideas to improve your business PowerPoint presentations

If you really need to use PowerPoint, remember it’s to help to help the audience, not you.

  1. Don’t read from the slide. If you read from the slide you’re adding no value. What’s more people read more quickly than you speak. At the very least, discuss issues which the slides is a summary of.
  2. Don’t fill the slide with words. Use the slide to emphasise the key point you’re putting over at that time, not justify it. Your talking explains and justifies – the slide is a summary.
  3. What’s the point? Have a clear point to each slide you use (and only one). Take everything off of the slide that doesn’t support that point, then ask yourself – is this slide now worthwhile?
  4. Special effects: Don’t use those wonderful bouncy, whizzy entrances and exits, they only detract from your message.
  5. Builds: You can set your slides to layer new bit upon new bit. DON’T. If your slide is so complex that it needs several “builds”, make it simpler. The builds will end up confusing you (and the audience). How many speakers have you watched talk about a slide and then press the button several times to step through the builds? They had lost their place, and were on the way to losing their nerves.
  6. Minimise fonts and colours. Each change of font size, type or colour is a distraction. Don’t have more than three on a slide and then keep consistency throughout your slides. Any more is a distraction.
  7. Use photos, not clip-art. One of the points of a visual stimulus is to stimulate. So use really bold images and stimulate the audience, not clip art pictures they’ve seen a hundred times.
  8. Cool backgrounds? You can really add value by showing your fantastic artwork in the background? Err, no. A simple picture yes, complex background – NO
  9. Giant tables and flowcharts: If you think you need a laser pointer to explain them – THEY ARE TOO COMPLEX and shouldn’t be used.

3 final tips to improve your PowerPoint presentations

  1. Practice your PowerPoint presentations first, several times without an audience.
  2. Arrive early and check the equipment. See who will be using it first and know how to make a smooth handover.
  3. Check your slides are legible to all in the room. If not, change them or don’t use them.

Download our seven-page guide “Improving your presentation skills” , it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required).

What PowerPoint presentation tips would you share?

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Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access