I’ve always felt comfortable speaking in front of an audience, but there are plenty of people who don’t feel quite so at ease in front of a crowd. However, these two types of people may share something in common: an inability to effectively utilize Powerpoint. Because I feel so comfortable, I often underplan presentations and rely heavily on the Powerpoint itself to keep me organized. While I do go off slide, to someone watching it may seem as though I use the Powerpoint as a crutch. For those who don’t enjoy public speaking, the same thing may be true. By relying on the visual stimulation of the Powerpoint, the shy speaker may feel less vulnerable, but their discomfort means that they won’t go off-slide.
So how are you supposed to use a Powerpoint most effectively?
Sometimes, giving a strictly verbal presentation can be boring. To enhance what you’re saying, the Powerpoint allows you to bring in visual enhancements. Don’t use animations or insert pictures arbitrarily, though. Animations are most effective when they’re simple and don’t detract from the presentation, and images are most effective when used sparingly and to great effect. Only choose images that are of the highest quality possible. If it’s hard to see on your computer screen, it will be even harder to see projected onto a larger screen.
For both the audience and the presenter, a Powerpoint can provide organization for the presentation. Powerpoints allow you to think in terms of how long you’ll spend per slide, and the audience will know what you’re talking about because the topic will be easily visible.
Even as the Powerpoint allows you to focus, it allows your audience to focus as well. To help your audience see what you want them to see, make sure to put important points on the slides, such as quotes, statistics, or graphs that will deliver your message strongly. Don’t put every point on a slide, but do put the big ones. This is also where using animation can come in handy. Rather than putting up the full slide and allowing people to be distracted as they read ahead, put up one bullet point at a time to help both them and you concentrate. You also don’t want to put too many points on one slide. Leave plenty of space between points, and err on the side of less points per slide.
What are other tips you have for most effectively using Powerpoints?