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10 Easy Tips For Better PowerPoint Presentations

Updated on April 1, 2011

Effective PowerPoint presentations are easy to accomplish. Here are 10 tips to help you create effective, even invigorating Power Point presentations.

1. Get the attention of your listeners. Up front, do something BOLD, something they will remember, something that will hold their attention. Why should they listen to you? Why would this NOT be a good time for a bathroom or coffee break? TELL THEM WHY THEY SHOULD PAY CLOSE ATTENTION.

2. Make good use of graphs & charts. Rather than describe something, show it on a graph. "Our sales have grown between 5% and 20% each month over the past 23 months." Boring!

Show it on a graph or chart! Here's an example provided by Microsoft:

3. Select A Theme of Your Own! Get away from the ordinary. Use a theme that is YOU. Power Point has many "standard" themes to select from. Plus, you can design your own! Check out:

4. Use Graphics. Color, color, color. Get away from boring! Microsoft Help has plenty of great suggestions and ideas. Nuff said.

5. Make good use of "Masters" and custom "Layouts". Build a Master and save it. It's YOURS! Use it for various presentations. Word of caution: Don't use the same master for multiple presentations to the same audience UNLESS you're using a "company-based" theme that you want to emphasize repeatedly. Even then, get a little creative. Keep your audience engaged and interested (visually.)

6. Use printed "hand-outs" effectively. Rarely, if ever, should you distribute a printed copy of your presentation before your presentation is COMPLETED. The natural tendency of use curious humans is to read ahead. When that happens your audience will form opinions on whether your presentation is worth sitting through or whether this is a good time to answer email. Even if they love the content, changes are good they won't listen as closely; hey, they already have all of your material! They can study it later. No good. If you distribute a copy, do it AFTER your presentation. Better yet, especially if you have something to sell, or want contact information, tell your audience to give you their business card or email address and you'll send them a copy (PDF format,of course!)

7. Don't read from the screen!!! Know your subject and TALK TO THE AUDIENCE, NOT THE SCREEN!

8. Keep verbiage on the slides minimal. Use pictures, graphics, charts, lines, cartoons, ANYTHING that's appropriate other than a lot of words. This tip will also reduce any lazy tendency to read from the screen.

9. Keep it simple and sweet. Better to have 25% fewer slides and end 5 minutes early than to cram in more slides than your audience can digest and run overtime. I know, I know, you have SO MUCH GREAT MATERIAL. Get over it. This is about getting a couple key points across to your audience, not dumping everything you know on them. Keep it simple.

10. Finally, and probably the most important: Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Sadly, this is the most broken "golden rule" of presentations. I don't need to expand on's SO OBVIOUS. Rehearse also in front of others; coworkers, family, your dog, your baby. Want to be sure you really have it "right"? Rehearse in front of your supervisor...the President or some other executive who will feel free to make suggestions and corrections. Rehearse until you know the subject, the flow, the goal so well you can do it without your notes.

If you remember and apply these 10 tips you'll find your presentations will be more effective, your audience will appreciate, even enjoy, your presentation and they'll walk away with a few keys points that they will remember for a long time. Happy presenting!


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