PowerPoint Presentation Advice
Mike Splane Ė© 2006
Structuring Your Talk:
talk always takes far longer than you anticipate.† Start early!
- Write a clear statement of the problem and its importance.
- Research. Collect material which may relate to the topic.
- Tell a story in a logical sequence.
- Stick to the key concepts. Avoid description of specifics and
- If you are making a series of points, organize them from the most
to the least important. The less important points can be skipped if you
run short of time.
- Keep your sentences short, about 10-20 words each is ideal. This
is the way people usually talk.
- Strive for clarity. Are
these the best words for making your point? Are they unambiguous? Are you
using unfamiliar jargon or acronyms?
Preparing Your Slides:
- Let the picture or graphics tell the story - minimize the use of text.
- Donít overload your slides with too much text or data.
- FOCUS. In general, using a few powerful slides is the aim.
- Type key words in the PowerPoint Notes area listing what to say
when displaying the slide. The notes are printable.
- Number your slides and give them a title.
- Prepare an Agenda or Table of Contents slide. You can reuse the
same slide at the end of the presentation by changing the title to Summary.
- Prepare a company logo slide for your presentation.
- You can add a logo and other graphics to every slide using the
slide master feature or by adding them to the footer.
- Proofread everything, including visuals and numbers.
- Keep ďlikeĒ topics together.
- Strive for similar
line lengths for text.
- A font size of 28 to 34 with a bold font is recommended for
subtitles. The title default size is 44. Use a san serif font for titles.
- Use clear, simple visuals. Donít confuse the audience.
- Use contrast: light on dark or dark on light.
- Graphics should make a key concept clearer.
- Place your graphics in a similar location within each screen.
- To temporarily clear the screen
press W or B during the presentation. Press any key to resume the presentation.
- Font size must be large enough to be easily read. Size 28 to 34
with a bold font is recommended.
- It is distracting if you use too wide a variety of fonts.
- Overuse of text is a common mistake.
- Too much text makes the slide unreadable. You may
just as well show a blank slide. Stick to a few
- If your audience is reading the slides they are
not paying attention to you. If possible, make your point with graphics
instead of text.
- You can use Word Art, or a clip art
image of a sign, to convey text in a more interesting way.
- Numbers are usually confusing to the audience. Use as few as
possible and allow extra time for the audience to do the math.
- Numbers should never be ultra precise:†
- ďAnticipated Revenues of $660,101.83Ē looks
silly. Are your numbers that accurate? Just say $660 thousand.
- ďThe Break Even Point is 1048.17 units.
Are you selling fractions of a unit?
- Donít show pennies. Cost per unit is
about the only time you would need to show pennies.
- If you have more than 12-15 numbers on a slide, thatís probably
- Using only one
number per sentence helps the audience absorb the data.
- Use the same scale for numbers on a slide. Donít compare thousands
- When using sales data, stick to a single market in the
presentation. Worldwide sales, domestic sales, industry sales, company
sales, divisional sales, or sales to a specific market segment are all
different scales. They should not be mixed.
- Cite your source on the same slide
as the statistic, using a smaller size font.
- Charts need to be clearly labeled. You can make more interesting
charts by adding elements from the drawing toolbar.
- Numbers in tables are both hard to see and to understand. There is
usually a better way to present your numerical data than with columns and
rows of numbers. Get creative!
- PowerPoint deletes portions of
charts and worksheets that are imported from Excel, keeping only the
leftmost 5.5 inches. Plan ahead.
- Backgrounds should never distract from the presentation.
- Using the default white background is hard on the viewerís eyes.
You can easily add a design style or a color to the background.
- Backgrounds that are light colored with dark text, or vice versa,
look good. A dark background with white font reduces glare.
- Colors appear lighter when projected. Pale colors often appear as
- Consistent backgrounds add to a professional appearance.
- For a long presentation, you may
want to change background designs when shifting to a new topic.
- Slides for business presentations should be dull! You donít want
to distract the audience.
- Sounds and transition effects can be annoying. Use sparingly.
- Animation effects can be interesting when used in moderation.
- Too much animation is distracting.
- Consider using animated clip art
- Consider using custom animation
- You can insert video and audio clips into PowerPoint.
- You can also
Hints for Efficient Practice:
Practicing Your Presentation,
- Talk through your
presentation to see how much time you use for each slide.
- Set the automatic
slide transition to the amount of time you want to spend discussing each
- Are you using the
right amount of time per slide? Decide which slides or comments need
alteration to make your presentation smoother.
- Change the
automatic slide transition settings for individual slides to fit the
amount of time needed for that slide and practice again. Are you still
within the time limit?
- Decide if you want to remove the automatic slide transition
feature before giving the presentation.
- Make a list of
key words/concepts for each slide
- Read through the
list before you begin.
- Don't attempt to
memorize your text;
- Your words will probably
be different each time you practice.
- Think about the ideas, and your words will follow naturally.
Delivering Your Talk:
- Plan to get there
a few minutes early to set up and test the equipment.
appropriately for your audience.
- Turn off your cell phone.
- Edward Tufte, the leading expert on visual presentation
techniques, advises speakers to always prepare a handout when giving a
- Make about 10%
more handouts than you expect to use.
- Distribute handouts at the beginning of your talk.
- Jump right in and
get to the point.
- Give your
rehearsed opening statement; don't improvise at the last moment.
- Use the opening
to catch the interest and attention of the audience.
- Briefly state the
problem or topic you will be discussing.
- Briefly summarize your main theme for an idea or solution.
- Talk at a
natural, moderate rate of speech
- Project your
- Speak clearly and
- Repeat critical
- Pause briefly to
give your audience time to digest the information on each new slide.
- Donít read the
slides aloud. Your audience can read them far faster than you can talk.
- If you plan to write on the slides to emphasize key points during the
presentation, practice ahead of time. To select the writing tool right-click
during the presentation.
- Keep your eyes on
- Use natural
- Donít turn your
back to the audience.
- Donít hide behind
- Avoid looking at your notes. Only use them as reference points to
keep you on track. Talk, donít read.
- Always leave time
for a few questions at the end of the talk.
- If you allow
questions during the talk, the presentation time will be about 25% more
than the practice time.
- You can jump
directly to a slide by typing its number or by right-clicking during the
presentation and choosing from the slide titles.
- Relax. If youíve
done the research you can easily answer most questions.
- Some questions
are too specific or personal. Politely refuse to answer.†
- If you canít answer a question, say so. Donít apologize.† ďI donít have that information. Iíll try
to find out for you.Ē
- To end on time,
you must PRACTICE!
- When practicing,
try to end early. You need to allow time for audience interruptions and
- Show some
enthusiasm. Nobody wants to listen to a dull presentation. On the other hand,
donít overdo it. Nobody talks and gestures like a maniac in real life. How
would you explain your ideas to a friend?
- Involve your
audience. Ask questions, make eye contact, and use humor.
- Donít get distracted by audience noises or movements.
- Youíll forget a
minor point or two. Everybody does.
- If you temporarily lose your train of thought you can gain time to
recover by asking if the audience has any questions.
- Close the sale.
summarize your key concepts and the main ideas of your presentation.
- Resist the
temptation to add a few last impromptu words.
- End your talk
with the summary statement or question you have prepared. What do you want
them to do? What do you want them to remember?
alternatives to ďQuestions?Ē for your closing slide. A summary of your key
points, a cartoon, a team logo, or a company logo may be stronger.