How often have you sat in your 10 a.m. meeting staring at a boring, bland PowerPoint presentation? How often have you dozed off because of the lack of excitement? Or, perhaps you’re leading the afternoon meeting, and you just can’t capture the attention of your coworkers.
It happens to the best of us. While it might not seem like it, creating an effective, engaging PowerPoint presentation can be challenging. Mastering this skill is a science.
Fast Company writer Darren Menabney puts it perfectly: “PowerPoint is just a tool.” In essence, it all comes down to the person creating the slides. So, whether it is you or a coworker in charge of the next meeting, be sure to follow these tips.
Summarize Your Report
Before you begin to create your PowerPoint, define the purpose of your presentation. Then, remember that your slides are there to supplement and support the claims you make orally. Your slides should not be a transcript of the meeting, and definitely not a script. When in doubt follow the 7×7 rule, which means that each slide should have no more than seven lines with seven words. Even that can sometimes be too much text, making your slideshow overwhelming on the audience.
This is why visuals such as charts, graphs, diagrams, and images are so successful when it comes to presentations. Visuals are simple, engaging, and easy to digest. Think about what you would want to see as the receiver. Would you rather look at a slide full of text or a colorful, descriptive image? Chances are you would probably choose the latter, so do the same when designing presentations of your own.
A 2014 study compared the effects of non-visual and visual slides on learner engagement among a group of postgraduates. Participants claimed they felt sleepy during the non-visual presentation, but felt more focused during the visual presentation.
All in all, the bulk of information in your presentation should come from your mouth, not the screen. The screen should be used to enhance what you’re saying through visual supplements.
Experiment with Platforms
While you are probably very familiar with Microsoft PowerPoint, there are other free platforms that you can use to develop your presentation.
If you are collaborating with some coworkers to create a presentation, Google Slides might be a great option for you. This platform allows multiple users to make changes to the presentation at the same time.
If you believe your meeting requires a more interactive presentation, then look into Prezi. Prezi is very much a visual platform. Untraditional in nature, slides don’t move from right to left but instead up to down, front to back and much more. For first time users, check out this YouTube tutorial to get started.
However, when you start to design your presentation, don’t go crazy with tools and features. Unless you are using Prezi, try to avoid animated slide transitions or noise effects. Remember, everything in your PowerPoint, from the first to the last slide, should be there to enhance your presentation. Don’t cloud your main ideas with wacky features.
Tell a Story
Perhaps you’ve heard that you retain a story better than an explicit fact all of the time. A 2015 study analyzed the effects of storytelling in a college classroom. The data collected through quizzes and exams proved that students recalled information presented through storytelling better than information presented without storytelling. In a battle between a story and a non-story, the story will usually prevail.
Lani Peterson, from Harvard Business Publishing, explains the science of the non-story and why it won’t win. She claims that when a presenter just goes through a list of bullets, the audience will usually interpret those bullets and develop a story of their own. However, the problem is the audience’s interpretation might differ from the presenter’s original intentions.
You might be wondering how this quarter’s financial presentation could possibly be told as a story. Well, you could start off by sharing a relevant, personal story with the audience to get them engaged. Tell your team why this presentation is important in a somewhat untraditional way. Then, as you present the information, try flooding your words with vivid, descriptive examples relating to your content.
To avoid the confusion and miscommunication, explicitly state your story from the beginning. Your audience will not only be engaged, but will also be on your same page.
Ask for Feedback
When you first begin to consciously perfect your PowerPoint, you might not know what is working and what isn’t. How should you combat this? Don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues for advice. Ask them what they paid attention to and ask them what they wished you did differently.
On the other hand, don’t be afraid to provide constructive feedback to some of the boring presentations you had to sit through at work. Your opinions and feedback will go a long way, I’m sure of it.
Are you still looking for more help to perfect your next presentation? The iGenCo team has you covered. We can help you create engaging presentations to help you effectively communicate with your coworkers. We can also help you create a standard presentation protocol for your business. Presentation standards across your company can help keep every meeting uniform, stimulating and efficient.
Call iGenCo today and start seeing solid changes in communication tomorrow!