BY DAVID GUTIERREZ
Learning how to prepare a presentation that will wow your audience takes a lot of practice, and there are no shortcuts that will replace actual experience; however, we can offer you a few tips that will prevent you from making beginner’s mistakes and give you a head start.
1. Do Your Homework
In both senses of the word. Whatever you may think of it, making a presentation is the easiest part of your task – doing the preliminary research and getting to know what you are supposed to talk about is much more difficult. Don’t be in a hurry to start compiling the presentation until you learn everything there is to learn about your topic – otherwise you may find out later that you’ve got some things wrong and have to start over.
2. Keep It Simple
One of the most common mistakes comes from misunderstanding the nature of your task. PowerPoint slides are just a part of what constitutes a presentation, and not the most important part. They are meant to simply complement the message you deliver personally. You, your voice, your gestures are going to be at the center of attention, and slides should only be used to illustrate your points. Don’t overload them with information forcing the audience to fully concentrate on them, leave a lot of negative (white) space, limit each slide to just a couple of sentences and pictures. If the audience cannot understand a slide in in a couple of seconds, you are doing something wrong.
3. Use a Template
If you aren’t particularly good at visual design (or if you simply don’t want to waste time doing mechanical work) you may both speed up your work and improve overall results by using editable PowerPoint templates. You may find templates in many different styles covering any topics and approaches you are likely to need for a classroom presentation.
4. Don’t Use Too Many Slides
The more slides you use, the more difficult it is going to be for you to navigate them, especially if you have a strict time limit. If there are too many slides, it will be difficult for you to adjust your delivery to incorporate them: you will either be in a hurry to cover them all or too slow. Make a few crucial points on your slides, decide how much time you should dedicate to each of them and make sure you can remember it all.
5. Minimize Animation
Many amateurs are childishly enthusiastic about using as many different animation effects as possible. Don’t do it – it looks silly and distracts the audience. Don’t use many different effects – keep them consistent throughout your presentation, and if you use them at all keep to the simplest and subtlest variants. Effects like “Move” or “Fly” not just look out of place in a serious presentation but are also slow enough to eat up your limited time.
6. Avoid Pretentious Fonts
Even if you have a really beautiful font, don’t use it. Choose something simple, well-known and easily readable, like Times New Roman or Helvetica. Never use more than two fonts (one for headers and one for the rest of the text). Make sure no slides have so much text that you would be forced to use a font smaller than 18 pt (or, even better 24 pt). Remember – fonts are just tools, they shouldn’t divert the audience’s attention from the content.
Following these tips will probably not turn you into a professional presentation designer, but using them certainly beats messing around and finding out all these truths through your own mistakes.
David Gutierrez has worked in the field of web design since 2005. Right now he started learning Java in order to get second occupation. His professional interests defined major topics of his articles. David writes about new web design software, recently discovered professional tricks and also monitors the latest updates of the web development.