4 important rules for PowerPoint presentations

the conference, lecture, lecture hall

Though there are no set rules for a presentation, there are definitely guidelines which can make it an effective one. When a designer is given the task of producing one most impactful presentation, the burden of pulling it off may be immense. A good presentation is one which does not take the control away from the speaker but aid it in a way it becomes a complimentary support. Learn about few important pointers that will help you create phenomenal presentations.

Rule #1

The responsibility is of making a presentation effective not just attractive. Sometimes just one appropriate picture can speak a thousand words. Think of that one picture of burning lungs that got you wondering why you are smoking still… You did not have to read the alert…your brain signals knew better. So the first rule is ‘more images and fewer words’. Usually presentations are always supported by a talk. Do you want the viewer to read while you speak? NO. So you want the visual to give a message, which you define through words. The presentation and the talk should be planned so that the storyboard perfectly synchronises with content spoken.

There are other technical reasons too; word heavy slides are difficult to read from the back of a large room. Surely when your text content is on the heavier side, you cannot use very large Font size. Due to small Font and more text, reading becomes impossible. When viewers are engaged in reading such, they lose out on the content spoken. It is not a good choice to be thrown to the viewers, a choice between reading the visuals and listening to your content. So your own presentation starts working AGAINST you. On the contrary, impactful images help the audience learn through visuals. Use a font size which is at least 24, if you need to use smaller than that means there is overloading of text.

Rule # 2

Give a single concept through each slide. That is again for the benefit of the audience.  They are being introduced to a new idea, too many together will not make sense, and may get them confused also irritated. Spread out the concepts in a way that the viewers are able to digest what you feed them. Only when you are sure that the concept is well understood should you move on to next one. You may be in a hurry to deliver too much in a short time period, but that will not make it a very effective presentation. Plan out what you should say and what not. Pick and choose, so that there is a second chance for you to elaborate or move on with other concepts.

You are allowed to break Rule # 2 only when you feel that stacking concepts in same page is required either for comparison or better understanding. You should use colours to segregate important words and highlight them. Just as you speak, you emphasize on some points while others fill up your talk. Similar interpretations can be done with words and using effective colours, size of fonts and stylising. However, you have to remember to give your words and concepts room to breathe. It takes a lot of thinking to summarise a sentence to just 4 words also extensive planning and creativity. You have to work on the copy and the concept before you start making a presentation.

Rule # 3

There are a large number of people who use bullet points in presentations. So the rule number 3 is say NO to bullets. First reason being they encourage you to place more than a single point in the slide. They look ugly if not like an amateur school presentation. They also occupy most of the space leaving very less room for images to emphasize the point. Another general analysis says that there is a tendency in the viewers to read the bulleted points on screen rather than listening to the spontaneous talk. This makes the role of the speaker less important, in which case instead of being an aid, the presentation captures limelight. The experience of the viewer is diminished by merely reading through slides. The main point of impressing the viewer through strong concepts is lost.

Rule # 4

Simplicity has tremendous charm and appeal. Keep your presentations simple. Reduce all the unnecessary points from your list and emphasize on the most important ones. There are points of minor importance which may be mentioned by the speaker. To make a presentation interesting text and pictures are often animated…what is the effect of these? Yes animations rightly used make a presentation much more interesting and grab the attention of the viewer. At the same time if it is an unnecessary one, viewers raptly watch it more like TV with their brain signals in half sleep mode. This may not be desirable to serve the purpose of the presentation. Another rule, when you use same animations throughout the presentation there is monotony and the viewer does not enjoy or grasp the depth of the words spoken. They lose their weight, so devise different animations for different slides and make it unique and powerful. Sometimes we choose templates to give it a professional look. But templates don’t do much value addition….Why? They make a presentation look very monotonous; the viewer loses interest seeing the same look through 20 slides. You need a hierarchy of importance in your presentation and for that you need a different look for every slide.

Let your imagination play and creativity guide your way. Let the storyboard be rich in content and emphasize them with right words and images. Let the presentation assist your words and concepts, while you take charge of the moment and enthral the listeners and viewers.

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