10 Powerpoint Tips for Preparing a Professional Presentation

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presentationPresentations – whether they are made with Powerpoint or other applications, are a great way to support a speech, visualize complicated concepts or focus attention on a subject.

However, a bad presentation can achieve the opposite. Badly designed slides with too much text or bad graphics can distract or worse, irritate the audience.

Here’s is a short guide that will help you create presentations with a professional look and concise content, avoiding the most common mistakes.

Design

The first thing that gives a professional touch to any presentation is the design.

Presentation Helper has a large selection of free Powerpoint templates for a variety of topics. However, whether you download a free template or create your own, keep the following in mind:

1. Compose Slides

powerpoint template

  • Don’t copy & paste slides from different sources.
  • Keep the design very basic and simple. It shall not distract.
  • Pick an easy to read font face.
  • Carefully select font sizes for headers and text.
  • Leave room for highlights, such as images or take home messages.
  • Decorate scarcely but well.
  • Restrict the room your design takes up and don’t ever let the design restrict your message.

2. Use Consistency

  • Consistently use the same font face and sizes on all slides.
  • Match colors.

You may use your company logo, highlight headers, create a special frame for figures/images or the whole slide but don’t overload your slides with these elements.

Colors

color matchA poor choice of colors can shatter a presentation.

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If you’re unsure which colors match best, use ColorBlender to get a set of up to six matching colors, simply by moving a set of RGB sliders back and forth.

3. Use Contrast

  • Black text on a white background will always be the best but also the most boring choice.
  • If you want to play with colors, keep it easy on the eyes and always keep good contrast in mind so that your readers do not have to strain to guess what you’ve typed on your slide.

4. Apply Brilliance

  • Carefully use color to highlight your message!
  • Don’t weaken the color effect by using too many colors at an instance.
  • Make a brilliant choice: match colors for design and good contrast to highlight your message.

Text

5. KISS

powerpoint text

  • Keep It Straight and Simple.
  • Keywords only.
  • No sentences!
  • Never read your slides, talk freely.

Remember that your slides are only there to support, not to replace your talk! You’ll want to tell a story, describe your data or explain circumstances, and only provide keywords through your slides. If you read your slides and if you do it slow and badly, the audience will get bored and stop listening.

6. Take Home Message

  • Always express a Take Home Message.
  • It’s your message, a summary of your data or story.
  • Make it a highlight that stands out.

Images

pie chartImages are key elements of every presentation. Your audience has ears and eyes – they’ll want to see what you’re talking about, and a good visual cue will help them to understand your message much better.

7. Add Images

  • Have more images in your slides than text.
  • But do not use images to decorate!
  • Images can reinforce or complement your message.
  • Use images to visualize and explain.
  • A picture can say more than a thousand words.

If you don’t have your own images, you can browse Flickr or Google’s image search for material. If this is a very public and official presentation however, you need to keep copyrights in mind.

Animations & Media

In animations, there is a fine line between a comic or professional impression. However, animations can be rather powerful tools to visualize and explain complicated matters. A good animation can not only improve understanding, but can also make the message stick with your audience.

8. Don’t Be Silly

  • Use animations and media sparingly.
  • Use animations to draw attention, for example to your Take Home Message.
  • Use animations to clarify a model or emphasize an effect.

Target & Content

audienceYour target i.e. your audience, defines the content of your presentation. For example, you won’t be able to teach school kids about the complicated matters of economy. However, you may be able to explain what economy is in the first place and why it is important.

9. Keep Your Audience In Mind

  • What do they know?
  • What do you need to tell them?
  • What do they expect?
  • What will be interesting to them?
  • What can you teach them?
  • What will keep them focused?
  • Answer these questions and boil your slides down to the very essentials.
  • In your talk, describe the essentials colorfully and choose your weapons i.e. text, images and animations wisely (see above).

If you lose the attention of your audience, everything will be lost — it won’t matter how ingenious your design шас or how brilliantly you picked colors and keywords.

10. Practice

A well-prepared and enthusiastic talk will help you convince your audience and maintain their attention. There are some key points that define a good talk.

  • Know your slides inside out.
  • Speak freely.
  • Speak with confidence – loud and clear.
  • Don’t speak too fast.
  • Maintain eye contact with the audience.

If you’re unsure whether or not you’re doing it right, read this article on How NOT to Give a Presentation.

Finally, in order to prepare a stunning presentation, you may also be interested in the following articles:

Build & Show Presentations Online With 280 Slides by Stefan

Create Awesome Excel & PowerPoint Charts with ChartChooser by Matt

Liven Up Your PowerPoint Presentations With LiveWeb by Jerry

Make Beautiful Online Presentations With Sliderocket by Varun

Give Your Presentations A Boost With ZoomIt by Saikat

What are your tips for a killer presentation? Present them to us in the comments.

Image credits: JadeGordon, eqphotolog, ba1969, danzo08, svilen001, hisks

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24 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Simon Slangen

Don’t be silly +1

Reply

Aeryn

Something to add to #3 Use Contrast
Think about limiting the use of reds and greens in case someone in the audience might be colour blind.

Tina

That is true. And the same applies for blue and yellow, another type of color blindness.

Reply

hrdo

Many good tips here – but the most important thing of all is content. I think for giving good presentations you need three things, sorted by order of importance: contents, confidence and slides! For building confidence, one should adapt a system of self management such that successes become very visible to one self; laifmanage.blogspot.com.

Reply

hrdo

Many good tips here, but you won’t get far without the two most important prerequisites for public speaking; contents and confidence! Building confidence can be done using a systematic approach – making you able of delivering stunning presentations, with or without powerpoint. I’m blogging about my system at laifmanage.blogspot.com .

Reply

Ankit Agrawal

Thanks for the tips.. :)

Reply

mipme kampfkolos

Very nice! We can only hope that peolpe start sticking to these rules…
And you missed one:

NEVER EVER USE WORDART!!!

Reply

James

Black text on white is VERY hard to read under anything less than perfect lighting conditions.

Reply

daybringer

Where is run spell cheek?
(Its spelled wrong on purpose.)

Tina

Very good point there!

Reply

John – TechListReport.com

Oh my gosh! So many people I wish would follow these tips!

I linked this article on my site.

Tina

Thanks John. I’m glad you found this article useful.

Reply

Mark

Folks, this is all saying things about style and color. What I see missing is Intro-topics-main points-summary-closing and last but not least don’t powerpoint everything! Some things need a written report. Pitches and getting buy in to a new initiative yes. Beyond that, Powerpoint may hurt more than help. Google Tufte Powerpoint for a detailed critique

Reply

Tobias

Nice article. USE HUMOR is one of my favorate rules!

Btw, as an extra ressource to presentationhelper you can download powerpoint templates at Powerpointing.com

Tina

Humor is indeed a powerful tool. It keeps your audiences’ attention, even if the content of your talk is boring by nature.

Reply

Giacomo Ratta [ITA]

This is a very useful article. A good powerpoint presentation is better than 1000 words.

Reply

Rick Winkler

I can’t tell you the number of bad PowerPoint presentations I have had to sit through.

Reply

Vince

Hey Tina, this top ten list is fantastic. These are all really great tips. #2 is extremely important, I can’t tell you how many presentations I have seen that are all over the place, which makes it very hard to follow. Plus it totally distracts attention away from the speaker. You can post this to our site toptentopten.com/ and link back to your site. We are trying to create a directory for top ten lists where people can find your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

Reply

honour chick

excellent advice. w/ emphasis on “simple” ;)

Reply

Acronyms

Excellent check list. So many people need to pick up this ideas ;) Thanks.

Reply

Jada

Great advice! Many times presenters use PowerPoint presentations as a crutch and while they are good for supporting the main points that the speaker makes, I don’t recommend relying to heavily on slides and posting the entire speech on them. Follow the Rule of Six: No more than 6 lines of text per slide and no more than 6 words per line.

http://www.wix.com/PowerPoint/Template

Reply

Gihan

that is very important and critical matters when making a presentation.Thanks

Reply

Presentation Skills

Good set of tips here. Powerpoint is so often misused by presenters.

Here’s a link on (alternative) . AKA The PowerPoint Comedy show on video. Hope you like it.

Reply

dave doob

silly billy

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