Tips to Make Your PowerPoint Presentations Effective


We’re bringing you a series on effective communication. Today we have looked at

  • Speech writing
  • Workplace communication
  • Email

The fourth article in the series, this one will be looking at how to make PowerPoint presentations (PPTs) more effective.

Role of the PPT

Visual aids are absolutely essential when you make a presentation, irrespective of the software you use. It is not “just another thing you have to do.” When used effectively, a PPT can augment and get your audience way more involved in your presentation. So how do we craft it to our advantage? And remember, this list is for professional/ formal presentations. Let your creativity loose when you are making one for your friend’s birthday!

  • A PPT is not your script. It is a tool to help your audience follow what you are presenting in a visual manner. It is not for you to read out of. However, the slides should coincide with the logical order of your speech. Print your speech, and carry cue cards but do not have everything you want to say on the slides. Face the audience and not the screen.
  • It is called power POINT for a reason. Long clunky texts are an absolute no-no. Stick to small phrases and key points only. Do not overload text/ bullet points in a slide. Similarly, limit the number of slides. Ideally, one slide per minute is a good ratio.
  • Use pictures where needed. You can anyway talk about or explain it. Especially when dealing with statistics, graphs and charts work better than having tables filled with numbers. Vivid images will help the audience stay connected. But we warned that too many images will tip you over to “unprofessional”. So, where to draw the line? Limit images only to the key ideas of your talk. Also, check the quality of your image. Ensure it doesn’t get blurry when you project it on a larger screen.
  • Fonts matter. The sheer number of options available is exciting, no doubt. However, there are fonts that are decidedly professional while the others are meant for design or informal communication. The problem with the cursive, calligraphy-like fonts is that they can make things unclear. Besides, if you are using a unique font but presenting it from a different system that doesn’t have the font of your choosing, it will automatically revert it to the basics. A simple serif or sans-serif font in large font size is what should be used to highlight your points. Avoid typing in all caps.
  • Double check alignment. Give enough space between lines, paragraphs, rows, images, etc so your text doesn’t appear clunky. Empty space definitely increases readability.
  • Consistency is key. Design your master slide first before you start working on your presentation. Stick to the same set of fonts. spacing and sizes. Introducing new fonts/designs on every slide will take attention away from the matter.
  • A design should enhance, not divert. It is easy to get distracted by the number of layouts and design elements that Powerpoint offers. But choose a simple one, that augments the topic at hand. Simple solid colours can work wonders. Your text and the background should contrast. Stay away from patterned or pictorial backgrounds because they compromise on readability.
  • You should be more animated than the PPT. Not all slides and all points need animation. Use minimal animations, sparsely, only for the key points. They can become distracting.
  • Learn the features. Become familiar with the features of PPT. Familiarise yourself with how to navigate both forward and backward. Know exactly what is there on each of the slides.
  • Be flexible. Do not rely 100% on your PPT. Technical difficulties arise all the time. Practice your speech with your presentation. But, in front of your audience, if you believe some slides are not needed, then be flexible enough to move past them.

The best thing to do is, before your actual presentation, run it past someone who hasn’t seen your work before. They won’t have the blind spots that you do because of your familiarity with the topic and the PPT.

Good luck. Here’s to making some powerful points!

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