PowerPoint Presentation Advice
Mike Splane –© 2006
Structuring Your Talk:
talk always takes far longer than you anticipate. Start early!
- Write a clear statement of the problem and
- Research. Collect material which may relate
to the topic.
- Tell a story in a logical sequence.
- Stick to the key concepts. Avoid
description of specifics and unnecessary details.
- If you are making a series of points,
organize them from the most to the least important. The less important
points can be skipped if you run short of time.
- Keep your sentences short, about 10-20
words each is ideal. This is the way people usually talk.
- Strive for
clarity. Are these the best words for making your point? Are they
unambiguous? Are you using unfamiliar jargon or acronyms?
Preparing Your Slides:
- Let the picture or graphics tell the story
- minimize the use of text.
- Don’t overload your slides with too
much text or data.
- FOCUS. In general, using a few powerful
slides is the aim.
- Type key words in the PowerPoint Notes
area listing what to say when displaying the slide. The notes are
- Number your slides and give them a title.
- Prepare an Agenda or Table of Contents
slide. You can reuse the same slide at the end of the presentation by
changing the title to Summary.
- Prepare a company logo slide for your
- You can add a logo and other graphics to
every slide using the slide master feature or by adding them to the
- Proofread everything, including visuals
- Keep “like” topics together.
for similar line lengths for text.
- A font size of 28 to 34 with a bold font
is recommended for subtitles. The title default size is 44. Use a san
serif font for titles.
- Use clear, simple visuals. Don’t
confuse the audience.
- Use contrast: light on dark or dark on
- Graphics should make a key concept
- Place your graphics in a similar location
within each screen.
- To temporarily clear
the screen press W or B during the presentation. Press any key to resume
- Font size must be large enough to be
easily read. Size 28 to 34 with a bold font is recommended.
- It is distracting if you use too wide a
variety of fonts.
- Overuse of text is a common mistake.
- Too much text makes the
slide unreadable. You may just as well show a blank slide. Stick to a few key words.
- If your audience is
reading the slides they are not paying attention to you. If possible,
make your point with graphics instead of text.
- You can use Word Art,
or a clip art image of a sign, to convey text in a more interesting way.
- Numbers are usually confusing to the
audience. Use as few as possible and allow extra time for the audience to
do the math.
- Numbers should never be ultra
- “Anticipated Revenues of
$660,101.83” looks silly. Are your numbers that accurate? Just say
- “The Break Even Point is 1048.17
units. Are you selling fractions of a unit?
- Don’t show pennies. Cost per unit
is about the only time you would need to show pennies.
- If you have more than 12-15 numbers on a
slide, that’s probably too many.
only one number per sentence helps the audience absorb the data.
- Use the same scale for numbers on a slide.
Don’t compare thousands to millions.
- When using sales data, stick to a single
market in the presentation. Worldwide sales, domestic sales, industry
sales, company sales, divisional sales, or sales to a specific market
segment are all different scales. They should not be mixed.
- Cite your source on the
same slide as the statistic, using a smaller size font.
- Charts need to be clearly labeled. You can
make more interesting charts by adding elements from the drawing toolbar.
- Numbers in tables are both hard to see and
to understand. There is usually a better way to present your numerical
data than with columns and rows of numbers. Get creative!
- PowerPoint deletes
portions of charts and worksheets that are imported from Excel, keeping
only the leftmost 5.5 inches. Plan ahead.
- Backgrounds should never distract from the
- Using the default white background is hard
on the viewer’s eyes. You can easily add a design style or a color
to the background.
- Backgrounds that are light colored with
dark text, or vice versa, look good. A dark background with white font
- Colors appear lighter when projected. Pale
colors often appear as white.
- Consistent backgrounds add to a
- For a long
presentation, you may want to change background designs when shifting to a
- Slides for business presentations should
be dull! You don’t want to distract the audience.
- Sounds and transition effects can be
annoying. Use sparingly.
- Animation effects can be interesting when
used in moderation.
- Too much animation is distracting.
- Consider using animated clip art
- Consider using custom animation
- You can insert video and audio clips into
can also insert hyperlinks.
Hints for Efficient
Timing - Practicing
through your presentation to see how much time you use for each slide.
the automatic slide transition to the amount of time you want to spend
discussing each slide.
you using the right amount of time per slide? Decide which slides or
comments need alteration to make your presentation smoother.
the automatic slide transition settings for individual slides to fit the
amount of time needed for that slide and practice again. Are you still
within the time limit?
- Decide if you want to remove the automatic
slide transition feature before giving the presentation.
a list of key words/concepts for each slide
through the list before you begin.
attempt to memorize your text;
words will probably be different each time you practice.
- Think about the ideas, and your words will
Delivering Your Talk:
to get there a few minutes early to set up and test the equipment.
appropriately for your audience.
- Turn off your cell phone.
Tufte, the leading expert on visual presentation
techniques, advises speakers to always prepare a handout when giving a
about 10% more handouts than you expect to use.
- Distribute handouts at the beginning of
right in and get to the point.
your rehearsed opening statement; don't improvise at the last moment.
the opening to catch the interest and attention of the audience.
state the problem or topic you will be discussing.
- Briefly summarize your main theme for an
idea or solution.
at a natural, moderate rate of speech
clearly and distinctly.
briefly to give your audience time to digest the information on each new
read the slides aloud. Your audience can read them far faster than you can
- If you plan to write on the slides to
emphasize key points during the presentation, practice ahead of time. To
select the writing tool right-click during the presentation.
your eyes on the audience
turn your back to the audience.
hide behind the lectern.
- Avoid looking at your notes. Only use them
as reference points to keep you on track. Talk, don’t read.
leave time for a few questions at the end of the talk.
you allow questions during the talk, the presentation time will be about
25% more than the practice time.
can jump directly to a slide by typing its number or by right-clicking
during the presentation and choosing from the slide titles.
If you’ve done the research you can easily answer most questions.
questions are too specific or personal. Politely refuse to answer.
- If you can’t answer a question, say
so. Don’t apologize.
“I don’t have that information. I’ll try to find
out for you.”
end on time, you must PRACTICE!
practicing, try to end early. You need to allow time for audience interruptions
some enthusiasm. Nobody wants to listen to a dull presentation. On the
other hand, don’t overdo it. Nobody talks and gestures like a maniac
in real life. How would you explain your ideas to a friend?
your audience. Ask questions, make eye contact, and use humor.
- Don’t get distracted by audience
noises or movements.
forget a minor point or two. Everybody does.
- If you temporarily lose your train of
thought you can gain time to recover by asking if the audience has any
summarize your key concepts and the main ideas of your presentation.
the temptation to add a few last impromptu words.
your talk with the summary statement or question you have prepared. What
do you want them to do? What do you want them to remember?
alternatives to “Questions?” for your closing slide. A summary
of your key points, a cartoon, a team logo, or a company logo may be
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