When you are preparing a speech intended to be delivered to a large audience, a good suggestion to make it interesting for your target audience is to design a presentation in PowerPoint. Providing the audience with visuals will definitely help it be more involved in the process of listening to the speech and further discussing it. Besides, the presentation makes it easier for people to grasp and comprehend new material as it is really hard to perceive some information and facts only while listening.
Nonetheless, with all the benefits that come with slides, the process of creating a well-organized presentation may come as a real challenge for many students, especially if they are not experienced in presenting material to large audiences. The most crucial thing to remember is that the slides should be a visual aid but not a visual distractor.
How to Create an Effective PowerPoint Presentation
- Make sure that each slide of the presentation has the same design format and the same template. It looks really awkward and distracting if the template or background color differs from one slide to another.
- Despite the fact that it is preferable to use the same design template, you can use different patterns of text organization. For example, you are encouraged to use paragraph structure, bullet points, images together with text, columns, etc. Besides, you may also experiment with text font, size, and colors. However, make sure it looks good and is good for perception.
- Make sure the slides are not too wordy. Shorten the number of words on each slide and do not use too long sentences. Try to express your opinions and formulate sentences in a clear and concise way.
- When providing information on the slides, make sure you do not repeat it word-for-word from what you speak. Paraphrase it and include only key points. Provide only essential information needed for the general understanding of your speech or report.
- Make sure you leave some empty space on the slide, as it will enhance readability.
- Make sure that the color of the slide background and the color of the text are contrasting. The text should be clear and easy to read even from a distance. Avoid patterned backgrounds as different dots, stripes, and flowers worsen the readability of text.
- Avoid using transitions, as they just take up much space on the slides. Transitions are more appropriate for oral presentation when you aim to pinpoint to the logical connection between one topic/ idea and another.
- Do not get obsessed with animation or other special effects. It is not actually appropriate for the formal environment.
- If you are using some images in the presentation, make sure they are of high quality. Besides, they should 100% complement the message/ idea you intend to convey.
- Do not make a presentation too long because your audience will be at a loss of what to do: whether to follow the slides or listen to what you are saying. Do not cram too much information in each slide. Provide only the most important information in brief.
- When you are delivering a speech, make sure you navigate the presentation properly. Make sure that the slides present what you are talking about at the very moment.
- Make sure you practice how to move backward and forwards with the slides as frequently the audience asks to turn back to some previous slides (especially if they want to note down something or ask a question). Therefore, before delivering a speech, make sure you know the structure, location, and the overall organization of slides inside out.
- Always think of Plan B in case of some technical problems or challenges. At least make sure you are not under enormous stress (which may influence the quality of your oral presentation). Prepare some handouts if there is such a possibility.
- Before presenting a report in front of an audience, make sure you practice beforehand in front of your family or friends. Ask them for a feedback afterward. Ask whether your tempo of speaking and the pitch of voice are OK.
- Do not be distracted by the slides yourself and do not read from them. The slides are not for the presenter but for the audience.
- Never apologize for anything (that, in your opinion, hasn’t worked out well) before the audience. There is a high probability that the audience won’t even notice some minor flaws, but you will put much emphasis over them. Just deliver your speech – that’s it. Your off-topic comments inserted into the presentation might simply distract the audience.
- Prefer running the presentation from the hard disc instead of the flash drive as the latter option might slow down the presentation.
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7 Deadly Sins of Presentations
We have singled out seven worst-case scenarios that might appear in the process of preparing or delivering a presentation. Read on and find out what they are in order to avoid them in the future.
- Transitions between slides and unexpected sound effects.
Such things may attract unnecessary attention or, to be more precise, distract attention from the primary message of the presentation. Leave them out. Focus on the quality and sense of your message instead of irrelevant additional details.
- Standard clipart.
Clipart is now considered as a vivid demonstration of the lack of creativity. Besides, it is really clichéd. First and foremost, before setting your mind on using such things, make sure you need those images whatsoever. Will they really help you convey the central presentation message in a better way?
- Standard presentation templates.
The templates for text organization make you fit within the boundaries and set your text and visuals. In other words, you have no freedom of your own to organize the position of the text the way you want. Try creating your own vision of how to present the text.
- Slides crammed with text.
Presentations differ from the simple text; they provide either a visual representation of an idea or a really succinct and brief overview of the message you are trying to convey. Therefore, do not write long sentences with transitions and do not insert whole paragraphs onto the slides.
- The “Me” paradigm
Whenever you copy some table, diagram or figure from the existing source into your slide, make sure you cite it properly. Do not try to make it look as if it was your own finding.
- Reading from slides
Slides are designed merely for the audience to ease the process of comprehending information. Do not be glued to the monitor when delivering the presentation. Speak in your own words but do not read from slides.
- Faith in technology
Be ready that technology sometimes acts up. Do not 100% rely on the slides for the presentation’s success. If your audience won’t make it without any visuals, make sure to provide some handouts just in case.
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