Last month I shared some tips for using spreadsheets. Today I have some tips for presentations. I tend to use Microsoft PowerPoint, but all of these tips are relevant regardless of what presentation software you use.
1. Use icons
You can make slides look so much better if you include a few icons scattered through in relevant places. Corporate slide decks (in my experience) tend to have lots of bullet points, so even if you add one or two icons you can break up the feel of large blocks of text.
Note: Remember to respect copyright. Don’t download icons to use from the internet unless you specifically have the licence and rights to use them.
Here’s an example of a slide that uses icons.
2. Use a big font
The bigger the better! Anything less than 18 point is hard to read at distance.
The best way to check if you can read the slide is to go to the room you’ll be presenting in and put the slides on the screen. Then you’ll be able to see (in real life) whether you are making it difficult for people to read your material.
3. Use a full-slide background
Full-slide backgrounds can make your slides look really good.
Note: Slides that are predominately for use as training materials or to be read without you standing there talking through might be better off with more words. If you are able to talk about and explain the slides, you don’t need as many words on the slides – and a full-slide background can be a stylish way of presenting a few words on the screen.
Here’s an example of a slide that uses a full-slide background. The image is the same as one of my book jacket.
4. Add an extra slide for a handout
If you are distributing the slide deck, you can add in an extra slide at the end with more information. You wouldn’t show it within the presentation as you stand up and deliver it, and you can hide the slide from the presentation (in PowerPoint) if you want to. Or just stop clicking through the slides before you reach that one!
Your final slide can then be an extra list of resources, an appendix, links or anything else that you want people to be able to refer to.
5. Rehearse with the software!
It won’t be news to you that rehearsing is a good idea!
However, you should also practice with the slides. Use your clicker, or practice moving the slides on with your keyboard or mouse. Check that any multi-media works e.g. videos or audio that you have embedded in the presentation.
Check that you are aware of the slide transitions and builds. It’s annoying to watch a speaker either fly in all the bullet points in one go before talking about the slide, or finish talking and… oops!... there’s another bullet arriving covering a point they’ve forgotten about. If you don’t like using slide builds, take them out!
What presentation tips do you have for putting together a great slide deck? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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