Last week I discussed whether or not you should give copies of your PowerPoint presentation to the event planner or seminar participants. This week I want to revisit an issue that continues to be a problem for presenters around the world; using PowerPoint (Or Keynote for us Mac users) in a way that aggravates, instead of inspires your audience.
During my Excellence in in Training Courses I ask participants (who are all trainers) for a list of things presenters do with PowerPoint that annoys them when they are participants in someone else's presentation. The list is consistent from class to class.
Here are 7 guaranteed ways to annoy your audience with Powerpoint:
- Having too much text on the slides.
- The text is too small to read. (This is usually because the presenter was trying to cram too much text on the slide.)
- Reading from the slide to the audience. (They cannot read your slide and listen to you at the same time.)
- Poor choice of colors making the slides hard to read. (If they cannot read it, they will get frustrated.)
- Too many slides for the allotted time resulting in the instructor blasting through the slides while saying, "I don't have time to cover this.", "We don't have time for this.", "This is a great video but, we don't have time to watch it.".
- Making the PowerPoint the focal point of the presentation.
- Slides are too busy - Stuff flying in, flying out, sound effects, etc. (This gets very annoying for people very quickly.)
Let us take that list of 7 PowerPoint Sins and turn it into a To Do list for using PowerPoint / Keynote:
- Use just a few words and more high quality pictures on your slides.
- Use a minimum of 32 size font using Helvetica or some other easy to read font. The bigger the room, the bigger the font size.
- If you have a quote or other text on the slide then shut up, and let the audience read it themselves. Once they have read it you can expand on it and discuss how it applies to the principles and concepts you are teaching.
- Keep color choices simple. When in doubt, check it out. Create a slide in the colors schemes you think will work then project them onto a screen and stand in the back of the room. If you cannot read it, go to something different. The lighting in the room will impact the effectiveness of the colours you use. You cannot always change the lighting to an ideal level for your presentation. I have found that black background with while font is usually a pretty safe bet.
- Spread time preparing in advance so ideally you have the appropriate amount of slides for the allotted time. If you discover you have too many slides, and it happens to all of us, then hide slides on the break or use the tools and shortcuts that allow you to jump ahead without anyone knowing. You can also print off a handout for yourself with 6 or 9 slides per page. Number the slides and if you realize you need to jump ahead from slide 45 to slide 64 simply type in the numbers 64 on your keypad and hit Enter. It will automatically go to that slide and no one in the audience will be the wiser.
- People are there to listen to you and learn from you, so make yourself and your content the focal point of the presentation. PowerPoint is a visual aide. If the screen is in the center of the room and is distracting to the audience then blank the screen while you are expanding on a teaching point. Hitting the 'b' key will blank the screen. When you are ready to move on simply hit the 'b' key again and unblank the screen.
- Use animations very sparingly, if you use them at all. There are a lot of fancy things you can do with Powerpoint, Keynote and other presentation platforms. Remember that just because you can, does not mean you should.
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