PowerPoint Tips from the Audio Visual Technician at the High Country Conference Center Flagstaff
Here at the High Country Conference Center Flagstaff we are fortunate to see great presentations day in and day out. We also get to see some less than perfect PowerPoint layouts that sometimes hurt a presenter more than they help.
The purpose of presentation software is to accompany a presenter, allowing their delivery of information to be as impactful as possible. This is best done by visually emphasizing the most important information in clear and easy to see formats. To achieve PowerPoint bliss, here are a few tips to help make sure your presentation materials look the best they can in order to reach any audience.
- Choose an appropriate Design Template or Theme and stick with it. There are many ways to make a presentation visually attractive. Start by picking a theme that relates to your topic and is appropriate for your audience, stay away from bright, dynamic colors and use more neutral, complimentary colors. Using a logo can also be an effective way to spice up design appeal, make sure to use the same size and location on every slide for a professional look.
- Keep it Simple! Slides should be to the point and easily understood. Maximum of eight words per line. Use a clean looking font with a large size so that everyone can see your point clearly. Dark text on a light background is usually best, however, using a dark background works well if the text is light enough for easy reading. Text over textured backgrounds can be difficult to read; using a text box can make words stand out on top of a complex design.
- The slideshow shouldn’t be your speech written out. I see this all too often, where a presenter will have their entire script written out for the audience to see. This is the best way to lull a group to sleep. In order to remember the details of a presentation, use notes. The old 3x5 notecard still works well. Try to use one card per slide to make transitions easy. Even better, you can integrate presenter notes into PowerPoint software, so that you can see your notes on the laptop screen, but the audience can only see a clean slide with bullet points or graphics.
- Don’t use too many graphs or photos. While these visual aids can be the most impactful and helpful in getting your points across, if you use too many they will lose their potency. Use these powerful tools sparingly to emphasize only the most important information, and I guarantee the audience will remember.
- Keep the slide count down. Using tons of slides will also detract from the handful of slides that have the most pertinent information. It is ok to go off on tangents or to elaborate on concepts and ideas, that doesn’t mean there has to be a slide for every talking point. The most effective speakers will have a generic “bumper” slide to project while discussing issues or answering questions. You can also blank out the screen by using the black-out button on a slide advancer or by pressing “b” on the keyboard while using PowerPoint. This is a surefire way to make sure the audience is focusing on you and not unrelated content on the screen.
- Test slide show before using. I recommend presenters go through their slideshow before every event. Make sure the images are not distorted, make sure text is in the correct place, and make sure embedded audio and video are working. There are many versions of PowerPoint and tons of problems that can occur, test all the equipment before your audience arrives so that you look like a true professional.