A well-designed PowerPoint presentation can do wonders for your speech. Apart from being a great tool to help you recall your talking points, it can get your audience interested in your message. With an engaging presentation, you can show some things that otherwise you wouldn’t be able to without PowerPoint. Illustrations, animations, and other visual aids can make your speech clear and memorable.
Keep in mind, though, that you can’t just put together a PowerPoint presentation at the last minute and call it a day. A hastily produced presentation won’t help your speech, it could even make it worse. So in designing a presentation, make sure to remember the following:
As soon as the information appears on the slide, the audience is going to read it. This is good as it means they are paying attention. However, if the text isn’t easy to read, you’ll lose their attention fast.
According to graphic designer Dan Mayer, choosing an appropriate font requires several steps. Among these is to make sure to use a readable font. It should be big enough to be read by everyone in the audience – even those sitting at the back. Choose colors that won’t strain the eyes. Some of the ideal combinations of text and background colors are white on black, green on purple, and blue-green on red.
One of the common mistakes that presenters make when creating PowerPoint designs is filling every slide with so much text. More often than not, text-heavy slides contain the exact same things that their presenters say. This should be avoided. As mentioned above, a PowerPoint presentation is an excellent tool for you and your audience.
It shouldn’t be misused, though. The best thing to do is to have no more than 35 words per slide. This will give your audience enough window to read and understand your written information and focus their attention back to you.
Imagery can supply the visual appeal that your speech needs. As the human brain processes images easier and faster than it does with text, graphics can help hold your audience’s interest effectively. They can also let you explain a subject more clearly. Naturally, you need to use relevant and not too flashy images to make your presentation look professional.
Line drawings, for example, are great for teaching concepts as they make potentially confusing, complicated information simple to explain and understand. If you’re planning to use humorous images, consider the sensibilities of the audience members first. Some things can be funny to some and yet offensive to others. So be careful not to cross the line. If you feel you need such images to liven up your speech, use only as few as possible.
One last useful reminder: Don’t use your PowerPoint presentation to provide your audience with cues on the structure of your speech. If they notice this, they would start to get bored and just count the remaining slides until the end of your presentation. Remember, slides should not be a word-for-word representation of your speech.
Use them to highlight or illustrate your points. This way, your speech will be able to engage your audience more effectively.
Mayer, Dan. ““What Font Should I Use?”: Five Principles for Choosing and Using Typefaces.” Smashing Magazine. December 14, 2010. Accessed May 19, 2014.
Lewis, By Tanya. “New Record for Human Brain: Fastest Time to See an Image.” LiveScience. January 17, 2014. Accessed May 19, 2014.