Perfecting the Powerpoint Presentation

PowerPoint, Google Slides, or Prezi. Whatever your poison is, you’ve probably had to make a slideshow presentation at some point in your life. However, the way you do it can really make or break your presentation and affect your audience engagement. If you’ve seen any of the TEDx talks about “Death by Powerpoint”, then you know exactly what I’m going to break down for you today. Here are some tips for having a memorable and effective PowerPoint presentation.

1. Be concise.

Most slideshow decks are accompanied by an oral component, where either one or multiple presenters are speaking. A PowerPoint is a visual aid, not a script. This means that your slide should be a summary of what you’re speaking about, rather than every word that you say during your oral commentary. Bullet points are great for this!

On the other hand, excessive bullet points drown out your key points, so make sure you have a good mix of bullet points and sentences. Remember the saying that sometimes less is more.

A way to help with this is to use the speaker notes function. In my opinion, speaker notes are the single best thing that help me get through giving a presentation. Simply write anything that you might forget to say in the little section below your presentation, and then while presenting, make sure to open up speaker view. This allows you to read your notes without the audience seeing, so that you don’t have to clutter up your slide and make them super wordy.

2. Choose a theme.

Many presentation programs offer themes and layouts that you can follow, to help your presentation flow better. These are extremely useful in presenting visually pleasing material. You can also download some from websites like SlidesCarnival or Canva, or you can even create your own with shapes and colour schemes, which isn’t too difficult. Having a visually appealing presentation can really attract your audience and leave a lasting impact on them, as they are more likely to remember something that caught their eye.

Some great ideas for themes include using geometric shapes and editing their opacity, combined with complementary colours. Play around with different features on your presentation software to find different things that work for you!

3. Keep transitions minimal.

When you were in elementary school, you probably found it really cool to have different transitions for each slide, or even have your words move all around the place. While this may have been intriguing for school-age children, once you’re in secondary or post-secondary education, these can become distracting and even unprofessional. Keep your transitions to a minimum, such as having sections appear when you click your mouse. These can force your audience to pay attention, without distracting them too much from the overall point.

4. Edit, edit, edit!

Make sure you go over every aspect of your presentation multiple times before submitting or presenting it. This includes spellcheck, transitions, and image placement. Be sure to click through your presentation at least once, to make sure everything is presented in the format and order you intended, and that the presentation flows smoothly.

With these tips, you can tackle the dreaded PowerPoint, and transform it from the stereotype of a boring presentation method for last-minute achievers to a stunning visual with a lasting impact.

Good luck!