PowerPoints are a cornerstone of webinars and sales presentations. But have you ever wondered whether your presentation is visually appealing, or if the audience will even understand what you’re trying to convey?
Presenting Like a Pro
Here are five tips to ensure your next deck impresses and engages your audience.
Make sure it’s not about you. When setting up your presentation, think about the challenges the majority of your audience is facing, and use these as your lead-in. You always want to focus first on your prospect’s pain point and frame ways your solution will support the fullest potential, rather than simply starting with a history about your company and capabilities. Your audience will listen more if you demonstrate you can relate with them.
Forgo catchy headlines in favor of explanation. A headline should always explain what your audience should be looking at on the screen. For example, if you’re displaying a bar chart that shows a trend, then make sure your headline indicates whether the viewer should be paying attention to the decline or the increase. Point out the details of what you’re explaining. Also, make sure all of your headlines are in the same place on every slide. You can set up consistent formatting in the “Slide Master” view of your presentation. (Or simply copy and paste the text box from your first slide onto all future slides and viola, they will all align!)
Chunk it up. Break your information down into bite-size pieces. No one wants to look at a white screen with a bunch of paragraph-style text. Some ideas for displaying like ideas together:
- Law of Proximity – use columns to separate information
- Law of Similarity – associate like topics by color
- Law of Connectedness – use lines to connect items together
- Law of Enclosure – group like information into circles, boxes, etc.
Beware of pie charts (they’re often not so sweet!). Although pie charts can add some dimension and color to your presentation, they often are overused and can be difficult for an audience to comprehend quickly, particularly when used side by side comparatively or when detailed explanation of segments is needed. Have you ever seen those two to three “categories” that only make up 2%-5% of the total and need lines to allow for lengthy text? One word: overwhelming. A better solution is often horizontal bar charts with the category text within the bar. This format will allow you to represent the data while still getting your point across in a clean, organized way. Your audience will be thanking you!
Avoid distractions. (You may think visual effects will add some “pizzazz,” but trust me, they do not). To improve readability and comprehension avoid use of:
- Textured text fillers
- 3D chart effects
- Red elements and text (use light text/dark background or vice versa)
- Slide transition options, such as Wind, Airplane, Crash or Origami
Now, get back to that presentation you were working on (or maybe you still need to start) and apply these tips. You’re going to kill it!
Tools for Presenting Like a Pro
Short on graphic design assistance? No problem! The web is filled with free or low-cost templates. For example, Slides Carnival (slidescarnival.com) is a common source for PowerPoint, Google and Canva templates. With cover page, transition pages and pre-built visual elements around all sorts of themes, even a novice can create a professional-looking presentation.
Or perhaps you have lots of data, and your charts are looking a little wonky. Try Visme. You can customize pre-designed charts with your own information and branding, choosing from 16 chart types (bar, line, pie, pyramid, doughnut, etc.) Whatever you create can be downloaded as a JPG or PNG for your presentation or shared as a public or private link. (You can even sync with live data!)
And if you’re looking to really make an impression at your next user group meeting or classroom training, introduce some interactivity with polling software, such as Poll Everywhere. This app-based software facilitates live audience participation where votes done by text display on the presenter’s screen.