Effective Use Of PowerPoint

Why do you use PowerPoint? How do you use PowerPoint? When do you use PowerPoint? The true purpose of using PowerPoint slides in your presentation is to enhance and amplify your presentation through audio visual aids. Your PowerPoint presentation should provide added meaning, insight, explanation, amplification or clarification on what you saying. The slides should demonstrate or enhance what you are saying through using a different medium (visual aid). Visual learners will also appreciate slides that send them the message in a visual format.

PowerPoint should not be used as your script or teleprompter from which you read word for word. We have all seen death by PowerPoint where the presenter reads of off their PowerPoint slides word for word. PowerPoint is not your back up plan because you have not prepared enough or you don’t know your content.

Below are some tips to help you improve your PowerPoint presentation.

  1. Use images, graphs, models, diagrams or pictures.

Look for pictures, graphs, models, diagrams and even your own photos that illustrate the point or the content that you are talking about. One common mistake is to have all words and no images. This includes purely text or bullet point lists. The term often attributed to bullet point lists is “shooting your audience to death one bullet at a time”. Also known as death by PowerPoint. The answer is to find those visual images that help illustrate the point that you are trying to make.

  1. Don’t use PowerPoint for your entire presentation.

Some people have their slides up at the start of the presentation and leave them up during the presentation and still have the slides up at the end and the question and answer session. I like to start without the slides up and like to connect and build rapport, trust and connection with my audience. I then reveal my first slide as I move into the more complex material. When I move into question and answer, I also bring the power point slides down. See point 5 (The “B” Button).

  1. Use other audio visual tools as well as PowerPoint.

I like to use two flipcharts and have one on either side of the room. I will often use one side for brainstorming, deconstructing points, explaining things or answering questions. The other flip chart I use as a parking lot to put questions that I will answer later, to park difficult questions, or to put actions that I have agreed to follow up with people later. So I alternate between PowerPoint slides and 2 flip charts (once again the “B” button allows you to do this).

  1. Keep your slides clean with only the core information that is needed.

Gar Reynolds in his book “Presentation Zen” talks about keeping your slides clean and simple so they pop. That is people can see and understand the concept you are showing them, almost immediately. He talks about stripping down the noise. Noise includes, page numbers on every slide, website on every page, corporate logo on every page, any fancy noises (Cha Ching) or transitions (window blind fade ins). Make sure your slides are clean, have no visual noise and they stand out and “pop” from the audience perspective.

  1. Use the magic of the “B” button

When you are in presentation mode and you hit the “B” button, the screen goes black and your image can not be seen. To get it back, just hit “B” again. When the screen goes black, this is when the audience eyes will turn to you and you will now be the centre of attention. This is what you need to do when building rapport and trust and when you are emphasising key learnings. When the screen is black you can now also move to the centre of the room, without casting any shadows from the data projector.

So the next time you use a PowerPoint presentation when you present, make sure you use to enhance what you are saying, not to replace or replicate what you are saying. Try the “B” button and bring your slide down and gain everyone’s attention.

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