Creating a PowerPoint presentation begins with planning. You won’t be able to make an impact on any audience if your slides look sloppy. According to Dr. John Medina, thanks to our powerful sense of sight, visuals play an important role in engaging an audience. To make sure you achieve the outcome you’re hoping for, you’ll need to design a PowerPoint deck that speaks volumes about your content.
So, how do you get started? If you feel like you’ve been in a staring contest with a blank slide for far too long, take a step back and try asking yourself these 9 PowerPoint questions:
1. What do I really want to say?
A lot of people make the mistake of starting their PowerPoint presentations right away, even before they begin structuring the ideas they want to deliver. The problem with this is that they easily get overwhelmed trying to organize their thoughts. They’ll soon end up with a PowerPoint deck that looks rushed and messy.
Your PowerPoint deck needs to follow a logical order to give weight to your key points and arguments. You need to plan everything you want to say first. Always start by brainstorming. Outline all your ideas and work on a presentation storyboard.
2. What does the audience want to hear?
While sorting out your ideas, you should also consider the point of view of the audience. Since you’re trying to reach out to them, try to take into account what they’re expecting from you.
For example, if you’re addressing senior executives within your company, make sure your presentation is concise and precise. The design of your PowerPoint deck should also suit their professional background.
3. How long should my PowerPoint presentation be?
The length of your PowerPoint deck depends on how much content you have.
It’s important that you don’t bore the audience with over fifty slides, so be discerning with what you should and shouldn’t include in your deck. To make sure your deck doesn’t bloat to an unbelievable number of slides, minimize text and make use of images instead.
4. What type of visuals should I include?
Try to avoid using the default PowerPoint themes. As much as you can, make your design unique and interesting. Customizing your own template is more effective. Come up with your own color schemes and make use of high-quality pictures and illustrations.
5. Are charts and graphs necessary for my presentation?
Depending on the type of data you have, charts and graphs are crucial to your presentation.
It’s always important to keep your PowerPoint deck simple and discernible. If you have data to present, include only the ones that are most crucial to supporting your arguments. It won’t help anyone if you have an entire table of numbers.
6. Should I play media files?
Considering everyone’s short attention spans, playing a quick video can help re-engage your audience after a short period of serious discussion.
But do keep in mind that videos and other media files can be quite distracting. If you’re planning to show your audience video clips, make sure it doesn’t last for more than five to seven minutes.
7. Should I use bullet points?
Bullet points are useful for listing things down, but don’t format all of your text this way.
Use it to enumerate certain things in short phrases. Don’t list down entire sentences or paragraphs.
8. What about animations and transitions?
Animations and transitions can add a bit of novelty to your PowerPoint presentations, especially if you can think of a creative way to use them.
With a bit of imagination, you can come up with something that will entertain the audience. But as always, it’s better to use as little of these effects as possible.
9. What else can I do to make sure my slides look their best?
With all that said, the outcome of your slides will depend on what you choose to do. If you’re willing to explore your creativity, you can come up with slides that perfectly echo the core of your message.
It may seem easier to stick to your old PowerPoint habits. But if you take the time to let your imagination run wild, you’ll be rewarded with more audience engagement and interest.
“Vision.” Brain Rules. Accessed September 10, 2014.
Featured Image: Horia Varlan via flickr.com