To PowerPoint or not to PowerPoint?
Before deciding whether to use PowerPoint or other types of visual aids, remember that:
- You are the best medium to convey your message.
- PowerPoint works best for things that are presented visually, not verbally. It helps when you need to draw a picture.
- If you are speaking while the audience is reading a slide, their attention is divided between
- listening and reading. This prevents them from absorbing your verbal and written message.
Designing your presentation
- Insert a blank slide after each content slide. Click to the blank slide when you have finished discussing the content slide to focus the audience back on you. Alternatively, tap the ‘b’ key to make the screen go blank after you have finished discussing a slide. This prevents people from being distracted by the next slide while you are speaking.
- If you need to use a slide more than once, copy and insert it in the appropriate places – do not go back to it.
- Make sure your presentation can run on any computer, and back it up onto a thumb drive.
- Speak towards the slide (but never read slides) while having the audience look at it. Minimize text: use photographs, maps or simple graphics, such as line graphs or bar charts – and make sure they are legible. Use only 7 to 10 slides. Spend about 90 seconds talking about each slide. Try and restrict each slide to a maximum of 5 lines and each line of text to no more than 10 words.
- Use key words and phrases on slides, not complete sentences. Limit punctuation and do not use block capitals.
- Avoid filling slides with equations and formulas. Use a large font for text – 24 or 30 points. Combine text with pictures.
- Make your slides logical and easy to follow. Put the title at the top. Proofread for spelling errors. Avoid fancy fonts and excessive use of animation, sound clips, transitions and other distracting features. Keep it simple.
- Use colour for emphasis but do not overdo it. Use contrasting colours for text and background. Dark text on light background is best.
- Leave ample margins on all four sides with an extra wide margin at the bottom. Keep important information near the top of the slide. Often the bottom part of the slide cannot be seen from the back rows because heads are in the way.
- TedTalks: These are the best presentations to watch. You will see what a good presentation is all about.
- Witt Communications: A website for public speaking, with many helpful tips and links
- PowerPoint Presentations: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: This useful, even-handed document details the pros and cons of PowerPoint.
- Presentation checklist: A comprehensive checklist to make sure you remember everything when preparing and delivering a presentation