Avoiding Death by Powerpoint
Here are some tips for powerful slides. At the Biz Tech Team, we produce slides for both online and offline presentations for our clients. We’ve seen some pretty good slide presentations that need minimal tidying up and some pretty poor ones that we’ve transformed into amazing decks.
Whether you use slides for webinars or in person presentations, getting them right can make a huge difference to how your audience responds to your talk. So here are 11 tips for powerful slides that will turn some of the most common mistakes we see, to a professional and slick presentation that supports and enhances your talk.
11 Tips for Powerful Slides
As you go through your slides, your logo keeps moving or resizing. It’s both distracting and disturbing to the viewers’ eyes. This happens because the logo has been inserted manually on each slide. As you make amends or add new slides from other decks the logo can inadvertently be moved slightly and/or resized.
PRO TIP – Insert the logo on the master slide. The master slide is the equivalent of the template and saves a lot of agro and time if you ever need to change the logo or any common information (URL’s etc) that should appear on all slides.
Logo too large
Worse than a moving logo, is logo and branding that overpowers the content of the slides. While it’s ok to have a large logo on the holding slide for people to see as they’re waiting for the start, the rest of the slides the logo should almost be inconsequential and more like a subliminal reminder.
PRO TIP – Place a small version of your logo in one of the corners of the slides (in the master slide!)
Too much text
Your slides should support you while you’re speaking, not be a distraction. Most people can’t multi-task. If you want people to pay attention to what you’re saying, then don’t give them too much to read because they’ll mentally switch off you/what you’re saying and read the slide instead, which means you’ve lost your audience.
PRO TIP – Check the slide for too much text – is this really your script? Replace with no more than 3- 5 words that serve as a reminder for you of what to say. The only exception to this is when you’re want talk about a quote or stat, then it’s ok. You can also be clever and weave in a bit of controversy with those 3-5 words that make people sit up and pay attention for your explanation.
Text too small
This sounds obvious, but if the text is too small, then people at the back of the room can’t read it. Usually the reason the text is made small is because there’s too much text in the first place – see the point above.
PRO TIP – If you’ve made the text small to fit it in the slide, review the content and cut down the number of words. Consider splitting the slide into multiple slides or use smart graphics to break up a boring list of text.
No images or graphics
It doesn’t matter what your topic is, even if it’s perceived as a ‘boring’ topic you don’t want to send your audience to sleep and using images and graphics can brighten up even the most mundane topics. In fact there’s no excuse for not having any graphics at all. Powerpoint provides a number of different smart graphics to display lists in a more interesting way and there are vast image libraries of stock images to choose from (e.g. istockphoto, freedigitalphotos.net, bigstock etc).
PRO TIP – Be inventive with the use of images, particularly if you’re trying to explain a concept that doesn’t have an actual product image – think outside the box and get your creative juices coming up with parallels that could allude to the concept you’re talking about and make sure they fill the page and don’t just sit like an afterthought in the corner.
Too many images
Having too many images is as bad as too much text. The slide becomes too busy and if there’s too many images to take in then the audience stop listening to you as they try to decipher what’s in front of them.
PRO TIP – to have the most impact, limit images to one large image that fills the page with a short title (3-5 words) that alludes to what you’re about to talk about.
Images too small
This is usually as a result of having too many images on the slide and the effect is the same as having text too small. The audience at the back of the room can’t make it out and the brains of the audience at the front of the room switch off their auditory senses to focus on their visual to decipher what the image is about.
PRO TIP – Use 1 large image that fills as much of the slide as possible.
Use of Clipart
This is my particular pet hate. Clipart are those free badly drawn cartoon images that might have been fine in your school days. They were novel and cute back in the olden days when we first started using computers and having any kind of image seemed amazing. But clipart doesn’t belong in your professional ‘grown-up’ presentation.
PRO TIP – NEVER EVER use clipart! No matter how tempting! If you need cartoons, get cartoons drawn for you by artists who specialise in that or use smart graphics or proper high resolution images.
Use of low resolution images
Images lifted off from websites are often low resolution to help with page speeds and they’re not suitable for slides as when blown up on a huge screen will appear pixellated and out of focus. It reflects badly on you the speaker and ruins the whole professional look.
PRO TIP – Always use high resolution images. Check how they display fully blown up on your screen. If they’re at all pixellated and cloudy on your screen then it’ll appear 20 times worse on a big screen, so don’t think it’ll be alright!
Too many colours
Whilst colour is good to the eyes, too many colours is too distracting. The audience won’t know what to focus on and their brains will switch off their ears to what your saying as their eyes try to decipher what the visual is about.
PRO TIP – Stick to a colour scheme that has a matching scheme. In Powerpoint they create colour palettes of complementing colours, so find a suitable one that matches your branding.
Overuse of animation
Images and graphics spinning in and flipping over in fancy stripes and chequers may look cool initially, but then they get irritating to the audience after a very short while. Not only do they take time to set up, they also take time during your presentation as you wait for the effect to finish. And they don’t work very well in webinars! Best to leave them off completely.
PRO TIP – If using animation, stick to ‘appear’, don’t use any fancy animation effects – they don’t look professional when used in presentations.
So there are 11 tips for powerful slides that will transform your slides to support your presentation talk and will keep your audience engaged.
If you need help with slides for webinars or live events, then let’s talk about getting my expert Biz Tech Team to help you transform even sketchy slide outlines to professional slides and handouts that you can be proud of. Set up a free 15 minute ‘Are You Right For Me’ call.