Many of us have probably been there, done it and have the teeshirt as well. But what are the key presentation skills needed when lulling your presentation audience into a stupor just before you apply the master stroke of inflicting a slow death by PowerPoint? How do so many people succeed at this? What’s their secrets? And can we all do the same?
In this somewhat tongue in cheek article we’ll be looking at some techniques that can guarantee your audience will totally switch off during your next business presentation using PowerPoint. Alternatively, you can always try exactly the opposite; get some training and learn how to engage with your audience and succeed!
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Make sure that the room is as dark as possible
This is a great technique – especially if its late in the day. You need to be able to read the slides out to your audience. Its also quite nice for them to be able to relax in the relative darkness of the presentation room. Just remember not to put too much energy or enthusiasm into your voice when reading out the slides. Just keep up a good monotone voice - your audience will appreciate that the most.
Powerpoint slides are for you – not the audience
Remember that your powerpoint slides are there for your benefit only. They are great prompts for what you are about to say – so remember to put all of your speech on them. Most people cant remember the exact words they want to use in their presentation so include every word you want to say, just to be safe.
It just makes sure that you wont forget anything on the day.
Use at least 4 slides a minute
Remember to introduce your presentation by telling everybody how many slides you have for them today. And as a rule of thumb try and have at least 4 slides for every minute of your presentation.
So if you’ve got a 25 minute presentation to give that means you’ve got a nice round number of 100 slides to entertain them with.
Remember to face the screen not the audience
Try not to face your audience when you are presenting. You’ve got your whole presentation written on the slides and you dont want to miss any of the words. So make sure you face the screen at least 95% of the time. Your audience will really appreciate the effort you are taking to ensure that you dont forget any of your message.
Use Powerpoints Features to the full
One of the greatest powers of PowerPoint are the ways in which your bullet points can be animated. You can have them coming in from the left; gliding in from above; being fired out like a machine gun, letter by letter; in fact there’s simply no end to the permutations you can have. Eespecially if you use the sound effects as well.
So turn up the volume and make use of every possible feature to keep the audience on their toes. And if you’ve got 100 slides to present – just think of the fun you can have!
Keep your font size small
You can probably read your slides quite quickly – so remember to make sure that the font size you use is small enough so that you can get enough text on the screen for every slide. Otherwise you might need to have more than 4 slides a minute!
Dont worry if the audience cant read them – you’ll be reading them out to them anyway. Plus you dont want your audience to be reading them ahead of you.
Minimise the visuals – its text that’s important
If you must use images in your slides – and we’d certainly argue against that – then try and keep to the fantastic cartoons and images that ship with Powerpoint. Everybody knows them so they will feel at home when they see them on the screen.
Its probably best to use lots of these images on just the one slide – say half way though the presentation – to add some real visual impact! But dont keep the slide up too long as you’ll need to get the presentation flowing again. So 10 seconds maximum.
Use all your PowerPoint Slide Fonts
The audience need variety – especially of they are actually trying to read your slides. So one great way to add some additional impact is to use a different font for every bullet point or sentence. You’ve probably got about 100 fonts on your computer so that gives you a good selection to choose from. Be bold – in even a 10 minute presentation you can probably go through every one of these fonts at least 3 times!
Experimenting is key to your success.
Use as much colour in your slides as possible
You’ve got an almost unlimited number of colours on your computer – so try and make use of as many striking colours in your slides as possible. Try alternating colours on successive words for real impact. Use a different background colour for each slide.
Variety is the spice of life!
Remember to tell the audience that you’ve finished
When you come to the end of your presentation and are just about to put up your 100th slide, your audience (if they are still in the room) are probably asleep. So you need to be kind to them. FAnd of course, fom a health and safety perspective its very important that you dont just leave the room with the audience still asleep in the darkness.
So turn up the volume as far as it will go for your final slide transition. And remember to use the machine gun letter by letter display feature for your final bullet point .. to tell everybody that The End Has Come. And if that doesn’t wake all of them up nothing will.
Then remember to put on the lights and leave quickly.
Alternatively, you can invest in your own presentation skills
You dont have to inflict death by powerpoint on your audience. In fact, there are no hidden secrets to being successful when you present. You can develop these skills through training and practice. It is worth the investment. By enhancing the ways in which you present and communicate you’ll be able to develop a much stronger influence on your audience and thus encourage them to respond to you in the way you want!
To get some expert advice and coaching and enhance your presenting, click on one of the links below:-
Skillstudio also offer public courses, 1-2-1 coaching and in-house training in many aspects of presentation skills and communication skills, including public speaking, vocal skills and body language awareness.
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