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Effective Presentation SkillsUpdated by Alex P. on February 26, 2014

Around 30 million PowerPoint presentations are given each day by people like you. Sound like a lot? Yes, that is quite a number. So, how do you make your presentation stand out from the crowd? Remember, we’re talking 30 million each day.

Let’s make that work in your favor. You should know that in those 30 millions presentations, you will find a lot of them with common errors such as clashing colors, cheesy clip-art, or cramming dull slides full of jargon-filled text. How hard can it be to make your presentation stand out from the crowd? Actually, it is quite easy all you have to do is to follow the 10 steps below. Yes, only 10 simple steps and you will have a presentation that will look professional, engaging, and most of all,  will keep your audience focused on your message.

1. Be original with your own template

pptpresentationtopicPresentations are a powerful communication medium and best personalized. Even though it is tempting to choose a pre-designed template, sometimes it is better to take a standard one and make it your own. No matter how good a template is, it will never bring all your ideas together the way you can. It is easier than you may think!

You can create a customized presentation by adding your logo, the images that go along with your theme, and don’t forget to choose a color scheme that works the best for you. Any color will do as long as you it goes along with the message you want to give to your audience. For a calming effect and maturity you will use dark blue. A well made template will help you to spread your ideas in the best way possible. The Infinite Skills PowerPoint course can help you create a strong template.

You’re already off to a strong start.

2. Use all the tricks you can get

Placeholders?  Layout?  Have you ever tried these?

They are not only ways to make your presentation look even better, but an excellent way to build you presentation more effectively. Time is money, and mastering placeholders and layouts will make you very rich. Here is how.

Most people building a presentation will add content to a newly created template. Try this as a smarter alternative: instead of just simply clicking the “New Slide” button, click the down arrow and you will see a lot of things to choose from, such as text boxes, tables, or charts. This will improve the spacing and look of your presentation. For more on using layouts and placeholders, check out this Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 course.

Of course, we all make mistakes. If everything goes crazy and the layouts are not what you wanted, just press the “Reset Layout” button and you can start all over again. Keep on practicing.

3. Less is more (and way better)

pptpresentationtopicAre you used to throwing a lot of information on just one slide? Or have been to a presentation where you sit there frantically trying to read all the text on a slide before it’s changed? I hardly have you tell you that it’s probably not the best way to capture the attention of your audience. Try this instead: Capture the main idea from all that content and put that on a single slide. The rest of information you add them to your notes.

So what should that message look like?

It should be a short sentence, or even better, only a few words. They should be written in a big font with a color that will attract your audience’s attention. Try not to use to flashy colors, as you wouldn’t want your audience to feel like they should be wearing sunglasses while watching your presentation.

So remember these rules: short, simple sentences in a large, easy-to-read font and color for every slide. Add more relevant information in notes that people can refer to on their own time.

4. Over-animation: A very easy trap to fall into

pptpresentationtopicDepending on the PowerPoint version you use, you will have many animations at your disposal. This is like being a kid in a candy shop. So many gummy bears! Fading styles! Wiggling words! People are naturally attracted to animation, but it’s easy to make it cheesy and cartoonish really fast. At the end of the day, your goal is to be professional and to spread your message, not entertain people with flashing words and cool animations.

For a strong visual impact, keep the animations to minimum. If you must use animation, try to use only a few simple animation effects such as “fly in/out” or “zoom in/out”. Don’t use complicated animations effects. Yes, I know there are very nice effects in PowerPoint, but you want to use these effects as sparingly as possible to give your message the most impact. For more help, see the PowerPoint Psychology course.

Remember, less is more and simpler is best.

5. The difference is with the details

A. The power of the zoom.

What looks tiny on your computer screen is going to be exponentially bigger on a big screen. Little things such as spacing issues or typos or something not being centered is going to be amplified. Those are the last things you want your audience to see. To mitigate this, PowerPoint has some tools just for this purpose. If you go into the “view” menu you will find and option for “Gridlines”. This will provide some very fine dotted lines to help you to align all the content in your presentation by the by the millimeter.

B. Graceful slide transitions.

Slide transitions can make or break your presentation. This is a very nice and important feature that PowerPoint has. From my personal experience, I can tell you that cool transitions can turn an otherwise normal slide into something interesting to watch.  But with any effect, use with caution and don’t go over the top.

Learn more tools and techniques with this renowned course.

6. Fonts

As with animation, you may be tempted with the sheer multitude of fonts you can choose from. This is both great and dangerous, as you run the risk of choosing fonts that might not match your message (or match themselves, for that matter.) For instance, if you’re having a presentation for kids, choosing “Comic Sans” might be a good idea. Using that font for a presentation in front of your company will be disastrous.  “Times New Roman” is probably your best bet for any presentation, because it is safe, easily readable, and appropriate for all presentations.

Be sure to use no more than two fonts in your presentation. Any more than that, and you run the risk of having a discombobulated presentation where nothing matches. Truly, one font will do the trick to make your slides as seamless as possible.

Looking for a new font? Simply download one and add it to your presentation. But be sure to only use that one!

7. Don’t just offer some facts…offer your ideas

pptpresentationtopicRemember that your audience is not in front of you to read your 50 slides. They are there to see you and to be inspired by your message and to see how you think. They want to see the quality of your work and your thoughts. Consider including in your slides images that will powerfully illustrate your point. Remember, one picture is the equivalent of one thousand words. I bet you that you can’t put one thousand words in just one slide. Actually, you probably can, but that would be the worst slide, ever.

One of the most powerful presentations I’ve ever seen consisted of just pictures, simple words, and a video. Embedding movies into your presentation is easy…simply click on ‘insert’ and ‘movie’.  If movie clips and pictures are used correctly, they could make your presentation more memorable than you could ever imagine. For more on successful PowerPoint presentation blueprints, try this course for crucial presentations.

8. Help your audience see what you are seeing

Whether it’s a picture, a graph, a number, or infographic, use what you can to visually illustrate your message. Though words are powerful, sometimes you have to rely on other means to get your message across. Make sure your presentation is full of these relevant images.

9. Design your presentation, do not decorate it

You’ve heard this one already…less is more and in many times, better. When you have a big white slide, it is so easy to fill the “dead” space up with more text, pictures, clip-art, arrows, and more. But this will only serve to make your slide crowded. This is also a rule of thumb for flyer and poster designers, to place their message at a certain spot and use the blank space strategically. If you have one main point, consider putting it into a slide by itself. You want your audience to remember several items? Well, don’t show them all at once. Instead, show them one at the time. Do you have a quote that says it all? Then say it and remove everything else. Learn more about designing a fabulous presentation with this tutorial.

10. Take a look at the bigger picture

Yes, it is crucial to have a presentation that will stand out, but this is only half of your work. The other half is you. You are the electricity source that will give the presentation its power, so make sure that you are prepared to shine. Even if you are presenting in a darkened room, you will be in the spotlight, so rehearse your points, consider what you’re wearing, how you move about the room, and the questions that might arise. No matter how fascinating your PowerPoint is, you will be the main focus.

A little story about me and PowerPoint

I am a freelancer that specializes in PowerPoint presentations. I take content and translate that into meaningful slides. A few weeks ago, a client came to me toward the end of the day and was in desperate need of a powerful PowerPoint presentation. That’s all fine and dandy, but the problem was, he needed it that very next morning at 10 am. And it was 23 pages chock-full of content. Could I get it done?

Could I ever. Not only was the assignment last minute, I had obligations that night (a really, really special party that I couldn’t miss…work always comes first, but you can’t forget to live a balanced life, right?) so I couldn’t get started until the wee hours of the morning. Utilizing the 10 steps for a great PowerPoint presentation that I just shared with you, I was able to deliver it to him at 9:40 am, completely to his specifications, and to the point. Not only will the 10 steps create a more meaningful presentation for you, it will also save you time but telling you what to look for.

So give it a spin and see how far apart you can stand out from the crowd!

Want more PowerPoint tips and tricks to help you give the best possible presentation? Here are two great resources:

Eye-catching presentations using Microsoft PowerPoint 2010

How to Make a Slideshow in PowerPoint, iMovie, and Online

Page Last Updated: October 2013

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