“Ninety-one percent of business professionals admitted to daydreaming during the meetings they attend.” –Training Magazine Want to create more engaging presentations? Consider what you are putting on the screen behind you. Visuals are powerful, they bring your words to life, and give it meaning. Are you inspiring action, or creating a distraction to your message? If you don’t have access to a professional designer to help build your presentation, here are a few tips to consider:
Keep it simple
- Headlines, not paragraphs. You want your audience to be listening to you, not reading. “If there are a lot of words on your slide, you’re asking your audience to split their attention between what they’re reading and what they’re hearing. That’s really hard for a brain to do, and it compromises the effectiveness of both your slide text and your spoken words.” —TEDBlog
- Use the notes section to capture your speaker notes. If there is content your audience needs, provide it as a handout.
- If you have words on the screen (headlines, graphs with labels, images with words) be sure your audience can read them, otherwise they are just a messy distraction.
- Keep transitions and animations simple. The only reason to use animation is to direct the audiences’ focus as you present. If your animation takes focus away from your message, don’t use it.
Use images, but please, no clip art
- “Keep in mind that when your audience isn’t watching your presentation, they’re spending time on Instagram where 75 million users are posting pictures each day or YouTube where users upload 100 hours of video each minute. People communicate in photos, videos and tweets. The platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) are delivery vehicles, just as PowerPoint is a delivery tool.”—Forbes
- A single image filling a slide adds much more drama and interest than a few pieces of clip art.
- Finding good images takes time. Allow yourself the time needed to find the right image.
- If your organization has templates, please use them. They were likely built to reflect your company’s brand standards, and should make the process of presentation building much easier.
- If you don’t have access to a template, the goal when designing a presentation is to create a consistent look and feel. This means you want to use the same font, color palette and structure on every slide. You want your presentation to have one personality. Using a variety of fonts and colors might feel creative in the moment, but the result can be messy.
- Give your audience wayfinding slides, such as a table of contents and transition slides. These simple slides allow your audience to more easily follow your content, and help keep you on track.
You’ve worked hard to craft your message; with similar focus your visual presentation will be exactly what is needed to leave a lasting impression on your audience.