Presentation Design – Does Yours Pass the Test?

Presentation design may seem like a daunting task, but it isn’t really. The trick is to think like an audience member and put yourself in the position of a person listening to what you have to say. What would inspire you to listen to the presentation?

If you want to make sure that your presentation isn’t going to flop, then have a read through these rules and see if your presentation will pass the test, if not, fix it!

  1. Sketch it out. Rather than switching on your computer and pulling up PowerPoint to design your presentation, I challenge you to channel your inner child. Pull out the pencils and post-it notes. Treat each post-it as if it were a slide. Write everything on the post-it that you want to include on the slide – will it all fit? If not, then you need to reduce the idea to just a couple of keywords. Using this technique forces you to organise your thoughts and just include the keywords. You can push the paper around and around until you get the right flow too, which will save you time when you open PowerPoint.
  2. No bullet points! Yes, I just said that. We have been conditioned to use bullet points – getting across lots of information by using those nice little dots – because everyone loves dots right? Nope, sorry.  Bullet points work great in reports and documents, but in presentations it makes you – the presenter – become a list reader rather than a storyteller. So don’t use bullets.  Yes, it’s a challenge.
  3. No Squinting. What size font did you use? Anything smaller than 30pt and your audience is going to get a headache.
  4. Don’t try to ‘jazz it up’ or make it POP. What do I mean by this? Adding clip art shapes such as starbursts or red dots to make the material ‘Pop’ or to ‘jazz it up’ means you haven’t done your job in creating a simple and clear presentation. You are using Microsoft to make your presentation interesting, it’s not Microsoft’s job – it’s yours!
  5. No cramming. One idea, one slide. End of story.
  6. No limits. This is tricky if you have been limited to a say 3 slides. What it makes you do is cram too much into each slide, or you speak so fast you lose the crowd. Is there any way you can convince the powers that be to have a time-limit instead of a slide limit?
  7. No, you don’t need your logo on every slide. If you want to look like a novice, go ahead and put your logo on every slide. But hopefully you’ve done your job in the beginning and they know who you are, so include the logo just once – or twice at the most (beginning and end). But not on every slide. All it does is clutter up the slide.
  8. Use data wisely. How complex is the information you’re trying to share? If you’re presenting to a bunch of astrophysicists then go for it, make a complicated chart,  they no doubt will understand the data. But if you’re presenting to your average ‘Joe’, then you don’t want them spending  2 minutes just trying to figure out what’s on the X-Axis and not listening to you.

So how did you get on? After looking through the rules did your presentation pass?  Are you guilty of adding bullet points or starbursts? That’s fine, we all do it once in a while (just go back now and fix it!). Remember your role is a storyteller, don’t get lazy and don’t forget this. The job of your slides is to remind you what your story is and to give your audience signposts.  Now, if you just want to focus on a great story then get in touch.  We’ll make a kick-butt presentation and you can create your well-crafted story. That’s great teamwork right there.