How should I use PowerPoint successfully within my presentations?

PowerPoint is a wonderful tool for bringing colour and clarity to a presentation. But it is just that; it is a tool. It is not the presentation. You and your words are the presentation. Many presenters wrongly believe that they have to have PowerPoint slides, otherwise it isn’t a presentation. Unfortunately, many businesses seem to require presenters to use PowerPoint slides. However, an effective presenter will be able to present in an interesting, informative and maybe even inspirational way without using PowerPoint.

If you want to be effective in using PowerPoint, you must think about it from the perspective of your audience. Generally they will have two questions in their minds about your slides.

First, can I read the words and figures on your slide? Are they big enough and in sharp enough focus for me to read easily?

Second, can I make sense of it? We want to make sense of things when they’re presented to us. If it’s a complex slide, i.e. with many components, then use the build feature to simplify it so that the audience can see how the elements fit together.

These are important considerations because if your audience has to struggle to either read or make sense of your slides they are not listening to you.

Use bullet points on the slide, not sentences. A bullet point is 3 or 4 short words, no more. You need to enable the audience to read your bullet point at a glance. Again, if they have to spend time reading a long sentence they are not listening to you.

Use graphics and pictures to bring your material to life. Ensure that the picture is relevant to what you’re saying.

Finally, practice presenting with your slides and remember to look at the audience while you’re speaking about the slide, not at the screen!

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