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5 Tips to Help You Finish Your PowerPoint Deck on Time

Your presentations aren’t the only tasks you have to accomplish at work.

As much as you want to prepare a well-planned deck, your busy schedule might not permit you to do so.

You need to balance content and design to deliver a winning pitch.

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To avoid a presentation snafu, work on your PowerPoint while maximizing your time.

Here are five tips to finish your PowerPoint deck before the deadline:

Review your schedule and move things around

Preparing for a presentation is a long process.

It’s better to finish tasks gradually than try to do everything in one go. That way, you have the leeway to aim for quality and focus on one thing as you go along.

Check your schedule and see if there are things you can move around to make space for your tasks. Work around your free time and split up what you have to do.

Even if you’re days away from the big presentation, organize a to-do list to maximize the time you have left.

Prioritize tasks accordingly

If you’re finishing your deck on a tight deadline, you need to learn how to prioritize. Accomplish your PowerPoint deck following a particular order.

Start with a structure for your presentation before drafting the content and finally working on your slide design. This hierarchy will determine which direction you should take your PowerPoint deck, so make sure you have a solid foundation before you move on to the next task.

Look around the web for inspiration 

Coming up with your own design concept isn’t that hard. For one, there’s plenty of inspiration to be found by browsing around the Internet.

You can check out these links to see what type of aesthetic you’d like to go for in your presentation:

Re-purpose old presentations 

Save yourself time by working with something you already have. In his article for Content Marketing Institute, Vertical Measures CEO Arnie Kuenn suggests repurposing previous content for marketing strategies to save time and money.

Similarly, this principle can apply to your overall presentation as well. Review your old files and find some PowerPoint files that you can easily edit and turn into a different presentation. Change up the color scheme or replace images you used with new ones you found online. Be as resourceful as you can.

Perfection is the last step

While you need to make sure that each task is accomplished properly, don’t try to chase perfection just yet.

Due to your limited time frame, you can’t spend too much time ironing out details.

The most important thing is to finish your PowerPoint deck. Once you’ve done that, review your presentation one last time and tweak the areas that may need improvement.

If you run out of time , it’s better to present a complete PowerPoint deck than something that looks hurried and incomplete.

Preparing an effective PowerPoint deck will take some effort. Make sure you maximize the time you have by taking note of these easy tips.

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References:

Kuenn, Arnie. “Repurposing Benefits.” Content Marketing Institute. October 28, 2013. Accessed March 12, 2015.
The Pyramid Principle: Tips for Presentation Structure.” SlideGenius, Inc. December 21, 2014. Accessed March 12, 2015.

 

Featured Image: Life of Pix

A Short Presentation Guide for Introverts

Presentations can pose more than the usual challenge for introverts. After all the preparation, an introvert presenter also has to worry about facing a large group of people.

It’s commonly believed that most introverts aren’t particularly inclined to group situations. However, it doesn’t automatically mean that introverts can’t handle pitching to a crowd. Best-selling author Susan Cain is a perfect example.

Unlike their counterparts, introverts are better with intrapersonal or “inward-turning” activities.

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An introvert will have little difficulty preparing the basic aspects of his presentation, like content and design. The real challenge is learning to be comfortable in front of a crowd and making sure all ideas are properly shared with the audience.

If you’re among the millions of people who identify as introverts, here’s a presentation guide that will help you command your presence in front of an audience:

Learn what you can about the audience

You might be better prepared to face a large crowd if you have enough information about them beforehand.

Because introverts are said to be better attuned to the needs of others, knowing that your presentation is exactly what the audience is expecting may put you at ease.

Of course, to get to that point, do some research first.

Learn what you can about the audience so you can tailor your presentation closer towards their expectations. In particular, answer these questions to identify the approach you need to take.

Don’t skimp on practice 

There’s no other way to feel comfortable about presenting than by practicing your skills.

It will take a little bit more time, but it can go a long way in making sure that your presentation is properly delivered and executed.

Even with a tight schedule, you can still set aside some time to practice your presentation bit by bit.

Practice how you want to say each part of your presentation, as well as how you plan to use your body language to emphasize your points.

Continue practicing after everything so that you’re ready when the next presentation opportunity heads your way.

Embrace your anxiety 

It doesn’t matter whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, feeling nervous about a big presentation is completely normal.

Not everyone will feel fully confident about any task if there’s a lot of pressure to perform properly. The harder you try to ignore your anxiety, the more your discomfort will be evident to the audience. All you can do is accept how you feel and work to make sure it doesn’t get in your way.

Start by performing relaxation and movement exercises right before the presentation.You can also try to pump yourself up with some powerful music.

Try to get yourself excited so that you can start at a positive note.

Presentations are hard work, especially for introverts who have to work outside their comfort zone. Use this guide to make sure you’re well prepared to face the audience and create a sustained connection with them.

 

References:

4 Different Ways to Practice Your Presentation Skills.” SlideGenius, Inc. September 15, 2014. Accessed March 11, 2015.
4 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Audience.” SlideGenius, Inc.. August 28, 2014. Accessed March 11, 2015.
Cain, Susan. “The Power of Introverts.” The Huffington Post. Accessed March 11, 2015.
Introversion.” Psychology Today. Accessed March 11, 2015.
Presentation Set Up: 5 Things to Do Before You Start Speaking.” SlideGenius, Inc. September 2, 2014. Accessed January 28, 2015.
The Power of Introverts. Susan Cain. TED, 2012.

 

Featured Image: Paintings by Robert via flickr

3 Presentation Mistakes Alienating You from the Audience

A successful presentation is the result of three different things: 1) a compelling presentation content 2) an effective and well-designed PowerPoint 3) engaging and interesting delivery.

If you fail to deliver any of these primary tasks, your presentation will fall short. To avoid presentation mistakes, create a concrete plan and prepare accordingly.

Recently, we’ve been talking about how you can improve your content and adjust your PowerPoint slides. Today, it seems fitting that we take a closer look at how you can keep your presentations engaging.

Take a closer look at the five presentation mistakes that might be costing you your listeners:

Mistake #1: Boring introductions 

Some presenters tend to forget the importance of a great introduction. A presentation needs a hook that’s attention-grabbing.

You can’t just take the stage and stammer a long introduction. Avoid a spiel where you introduce yourself, the topic of your presentation, and apologize for how long it’s going to be will never work in your favor.

To change it up, focus on giving the audience a glimpse of the message you want to share. Share an anecdote that can serve as a springboard to your discussion. Start with a unique statistic.

Another option is to give your prospects a chance to connect with the presentation by sharing a story directly related to your topic.

Mistake #2: Filler words 

It’s normal to feel nervous before a presentation. However, you have to make sure your anxiety doesn’t translate to what you do or say in front of the audience.

In a compilation on Six Minutes, renowned speech evaluator Andrew Dlugan collates the opinions of several public speakers on one of the most common presentation mistakes—filler words.The habit of saying words like “um” and “you know” is hard to break, especially when you’re burdened with the pressure to give your best.

Cut back on your use of filler words by taking time to rehearse and hone your presentation skills. There’s no shortcut to this, so be patient in learning to become a better public speaker.

As you rehearse, pace yourself. The more you rush through what you have to say, the more you’re likely to forget what’s next and resort to use unnecessary words to fill the silence.

Mistake #3: Causing unnecessary distractions

A great presenter is constantly aware of what he does in front of the audience. If you want to make sure the audience pays full attention, shake off distracting habits.

Apart from filler words, you might be unconsciously causing a commotion that can shift the attention from what you’re saying.

Whether you’re constantly adjusting what you’re wearing or calling to an assistant to skip to a specific slide, it’s the little things that can take the audience out of the experience.

Make sure you’re well-rehearsed and aware of how you present yourself on stage. Always be alert and present to avoid any visible slip-ups.

A successful presentation is the product of an engaged and interested audience. Keep their attention on the message you’re delivering by avoiding these 3 presentation mistakes.

 

References:

Are… Um… Filler Words… Ah… Okay?Six Minutes. Accessed March 10, 2015.
Be a Presentation Virtuoso with Deliberate Practice.” SlideGenius, Inc. February 26, 2015. Accessed March 10, 2015.
The Complete Presentation Checklist.” SlideGenius, Inc. November 25, 2014. Accessed March 10, 2015.

 

Featured Image: William Warby via flickr

A Guide to Making a PowerPoint Style Guide

Corporations and organizations often use a style guide to ensure that all their visual materials maintain a consistent and cohesive look.

Because it’s impossible to keep track of every PowerPoint deck created in such an environment, a style guide guarantees that every presentation will correspond to your organization’s brand identity.

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Before starting on your style guide, familiarize yourself with PowerPoint’s Slide Master function to create and customize templates first. This makes it easier to accomplish once you begin distributing it throughout the organization.

Here are areas you need to focus on:

Leverage branding

Every design rule or suggestion that you put down should contribute to your branding efforts. As we’ve discussed in the past, an easy way to integrate branding into PowerPoint design is through the clever use of colors.

Set down some rules on the color scheme that everyone should use for presentations. Keep your brand’s logo and overall aesthetic in mind, making sure your rules for the color scheme goes well with both. Let your colors stand out so that the audience can see that your slides are part of a larger, unified whole.

Another way to leverage branding is by using visual metaphors that correspond to your brand identity. Include suggestions for images and illustrations people should use in their PowerPoint designs.

Establish rules following best PowerPoint practices

Aside from branding, a PowerPoint style guide also helps you maintain the quality of all the slide decks presented in your organization’s name.

As such, it’s important that you establish key rules that follow the best PowerPoint practices. Be strict about the use of bullet points and the amount of text included in a single slide. Establish pointers on how data should be presented. There are different ways to do it, but all in all, you should make sure that charts and graphs don’t get too overwhelming by inputting only the content that matters to your pitch.

Something else you can consider is making suggestions that can help manage the length of your company’s presentations.

In this PowerPoint style guide from the American Marketing Association, there’s a suggestion that a PowerPoint deck should match its length in number of slides. For example, 10-minute presentations should have no more than 10 slides.

Add reminders for presentation delivery

It might seem unnecessary, but you can also include a few reminders on how presentations should be delivered.

While a PowerPoint style guide may be focused on design, its overall objective should touch on improving presentations delivered throughout your organization. Also remind others to be more careful with the way they present their slides. After all, the point of creating PowerPoint slides is to enhance the message people are delivering with their presentations.

At the end of the day, what matters is what audiences are left with. If the delivery is improved, you can expect outcomes to improve as well.

A PowerPoint style guide is a way you can make sure presentations are organized and consistent with the company’s overall message. Have a clear vision on how you want these presentations to look like, and what kind of impact you want them to leave on audiences.

These are the things you need to have defined and clarified in your PowerPoint style guide:

  • Use of logo
  • Color scheme
  • Font type and size
  • Use of bullet points
  • Use of images, icons, and illustrations
  • Presenting data in charts and graphs
  • Editing and cutting back on slides
  • Pointers on presenting slides to make the most of the visual aids

Keep these in mind and start establishing some rules and pointers to maximize your use of effective visuals.

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References:

Chapman, Cameron. “Why Your Brand Needs a Style Guide, and How to Create One.” Webdesigner Depot. Accessed March 6, 2015.
Design Ideas: How to Improve PowerPoint Templates.” SlideGenius, Inc. December 9, 2014. Accessed February 4, 2015.
Improve Your Presentations with the Power of the Metaphor.” SlideGenius, Inc. November 17, 2014. Accessed January 12, 2015.
PowerPoint Style Guidelines.” American Marketing Association. Accessed March 6, 2015.
The Top 10 Best PowerPoint Design Practices.” SlideGenius, Inc. November 18, 2014. Accessed March 6, 2015.

 

Featured Image: Death to the Stock Photo

Sound Slides: A PowerPoint Tutorial on Music and Sound Effects

Your presentation audience makes use of their visual and auditory senses the most during your pitch.

Because we often emphasize the importance of visuals in PowerPoint design, it’s time we consider audio, especially if you’re planning to share your presentation online.

Sometimes, it’s not enough to enhance your PowerPoint deck with eye-catching pictures and illustrations. There are moments when you need to add another dimension to your presentation design. A careful mix of visuals and audio can really add life to your slides and take your presentation further.

Add life and sound to your slides in three easy steps:

Step 1: Insert audio file

For the purpose of this tutorial, we’ll be using PowerPoint 2010.

Get started by looking for the Media group under the Insert tab.

From there, choose the Audio icon and select what type of audio file you’d like to insert into your PowerPoint presentation. You can choose an audio file that’s saved in your computer, record your own, or use a file from the Clip Art gallery.

powerpoint tutorial audio 01

If you’re going to use something that you already have saved or that you downloaded from the Internet, make sure the file is compatible with PowerPoint. They have to be in any of the following formats:

  • Windows Media Audio (.wma)
  • Windows Audio (.wav)
  • MP3 (.mp3)

Step 2: Preview selected audio file

After successfully inserting your chosen audio file, you will see a sound icon appear on the slide you’re currently working on. When you select it, a toolbar will appear. This is where you can press Play to preview your audio.

powerpoint tutorial audio 02

Always check to see if the music or sound effects you’ve chosen are working properly. If the audio skips or lags, you might want to use a file with a smaller size.

Step 3: Select playback option

Lastly, choose a play back option for your audio file. After selecting the sound icon, go to the Playback tab under Audio Tools. Among the following options, choose the one that’s most applicable to how you envision your PowerPoint deck.

powerpoint tutorial audio 03

  • Automatically – The audio file will start to play as soon as you reach the current slide
  • On Click – Play the audio on demand by clicking the icon
  • Play Across Slides – The audio file will play throughout the entire PowerPoint deck
  • Loop Until Stopped – The file will play loop unless you move on to a new slide

You can also opt to hide the sound icon if you don’t want it cluttering the look of your slide. After you’ve selected the playback option that suits your presentation, tick the box for Hide During Show that’s under Audio Options.

It’s easy to take a simple PowerPoint presentation and turn it into an experience that the audience won’t soon forget. This PowerPoint tutorial is perfect for anyone looking to make sure their presentations are a little bit better than before.

Sprinkle a few sound effects to add impact to your presentation. For online presentations, use these steps to integrate a voice over to your slides. Contact our PowerPoint experts to learn how else you can improve your PowerPoint designs and presentation outcomes.

 

References

Add and Play Sounds in a Presentation.” Office Support. Accessed March 5, 2015.
Visual Simplicity Is Captivating in Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. September 30, 2014.Accessed March 5, 2015.

 

Featured Image: picjumbo

Take This Quiz to Learn Your Presentation Delivery Style

We’ve said it before–no two presenters are alike. Because presentations are a form of communication, the way we communicate with the audience will vary due to our personalities. There are certain personalities that prefer to engage with an audience through stories and humor. There are some that prefer a straightforward presentation of facts. Others are more passionate about their presentations, urging the audience to think about the message being shared with them. None of these are necessarily better than the others. When it comes to presentation delivery, what really matters is that you find which style works best for you.

Considering all that, what would be your presentation delivery style? If you are burning with curiosity, this is the million dollar question we’ll try to answer today.

Take this short quiz and find out:

presentation delivery style quiz

A lot of us assume that public speaking is a talent that comes naturally to those who are good at it. It might be true that some are more inclined to it than others, but the reality is a little bit more nuanced than that. Everyone is capable of becoming effective presenters. Even if you’re an introvert, you can still deliver a great presentation depending on what style fits your personality.

Review the results of your quiz and think about how you can improve the presentations you deliver. What adjustments do you think you should you make?

Whatever presentation delivery style suits you the most, the next step you have to take is to learn how to prepare your presentations accordingly. Start by reading up on the different presentation delivery styles here and find presentations of the same style that you can peg.

 

References:

3 Reasons Why Introverts Can Become Presentation Experts.SlideGenius. August 24, 2015.
What’s Your Presentation Delivery Style?SlideGenius. August 6, 2014.

 

Featured Image: picjumbo.com

Pictures featured in quiz from picjumbo.com, Death to the Stock Photo, and flickr users ruffrootcreative, Garry Knight, kjeikGisela GiardinoMike Fisher

What’s Wrong With Your Sales Presentations?

Sales presentations are a crucial step to your reaching out and communicating with prospect clients. During such an opportunity, you get to make them understand the importance of what your brand can do for them.

Because of this, it’s important that you make the most of the time you’ve been given. Delivering a successful sales pitch leads you one step closer to sealing the deal with a new client.

But what if your sales presentations aren’t helping you reach that outcome? Let us lend you a hand by taking note of some mistakes that could cost you incredible opportunities:

Mistake #1: Lack of preparation

Most people try to prepare for sales presentations as quickly as possible, thinking they can simply “wing” most of their pitch.

Sure, you might have taken the time to prepare your PowerPoint deck and all the points you want to cover, but this isn’t enough to get you across the finish line. If you really want to succeed and impress your prospects, plan and prepare every aspect of your presentation.

Take the time to do some research and prepare your materials long before your scheduled meeting.

Plan how you’ll go about your presentation to make sure you don’t go over the time you were given. Be meticulous about every step, or you might end up with a half-baked pitch.

Mistake #2: The hard sell

Your ultimate goal is to seal the deal with your prospects. However, your sales presentations shouldn’t sound like a desperate bid to get hired.

While hard selling has its own benefits, Gigaom contributor, Celine Roque, explains that its straightforwardness may not always work for everyone.

Explore other avenues of pitching your product or service. Let your brand should speak for itself. Work hard to present all the significant features that are relevant to your audience by appealing to their experiences.

During your preparation, try to learn as much as you can about your prospects: What particular challenge would they want to solve with the help of your product or service?

After that, identify a few attributes that would be important to them based on what you found out through your research.

Mistake #3: Poor delivery

You can have the most inspired presentation ever, but it won’t be any good if you can’t deliver properly.

As compelling as your points might be, you need to make sure you sell them as best you can.

Don’t waste a good opportunity by mumbling to yourself and avoiding eye contact. Face the crowd with confidence.

If you’re feeling a bit nervous about it, we have plenty of tips that might help you shake off your anxiety. Rather than run away from your fears, face them and use them to your advantage.

Your audience doesn’t know your presentation the way you do, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

You’ll be surprised how much you can do when you put on a brave face.

Mistake #4: Ignoring the audience

It’s hard to trust and engage with a presenter who talks without much regard to his audience.

If you don’t take the time to pause and ask questions, your prospects might feel like you’re talking at them, rather than to them. This defeats the point of engaging them.

Instead of this bad habit, make them feel like you’re in a productive conversation.

Remember that you have to leave your prospects with a favorable impression of your brand and organization.

A disengaged presenter won’t do that. Make eye contact and be pleasant throughout your presentation. Observe their reactions and ask for their comments if it looks like someone might want to share comments.

Mistake #5: Bad PowerPoint designs

Finally, keep in mind that PowerPoint design plays an important role in the success of sales presentations.

As we’ve mentioned time and again, majority of people are visual learners. Seeing your pitch play out in front of them as engaging visuals can really add impact to the message you want to share.

Step out of the mold and customize your design. You can also browse through our portfolio for inspiration and contact our expert presentation designers for some extra help.

 

References

Design Ideas: How to Improve PowerPoint Templates.” SlideGenius, Inc. December 9, 2014. Accessed March 3, 2015.
How to Shake Off Your Pre-Presentation Jitters.” SlideGenius, Inc. November 6, 2014.Accessed March 3, 2015.
Roque, Celine. “Hard Selling vs. Soft Selling: Which Approach Do You Use With Clients?Gigaom. February 25, 2009. Accessed March 3, 2015.
The Visual (spatial) Learning Style.” Learning Styles. Accessed March 3, 2015.

 

Featured Image: David Goehring via Flickr

Are Your Online Presentations Working For You?

There are many advantages to reaching out and connecting with your audience online. Consider integrating online content marketing as part of your strategy for optimal audience engagement.

What better way to pique your target audience’s interests than providing them with content that’s both useful and relevant to their interests?

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That said, online presentations can significantly improve your brand’s visibility online.

As you know, a presentation is both a visual and informative medium. Take note of the ways you can cut back lengthy PowerPoint presentations and turn them to more SEO-friendly slides. In the process, don’t forget to check if the end product lines up with your objectives.

Ask yourself these questions to make sure your online presentations are working for you:

How relevant are your online presentations? 

According to NN Group co-founder Jakob Nielsen, majority of online users spend only about 10 to 20 seconds browsing through a web page to find what they’re looking for. If the page doesn’t have that information, they’ll skip over to the next link.

Don’t let the same thing happen to your online presentations. If the audience skips past the thumbnail of your online presentation, they might never scroll back to have a second look.

Make sure you’re relevant to what they might be searching for.

Create a presentation offering to give them tips or advice, but don’t make it too generic.

Business consultant, Mark Evans, stresses the importance of fitting the needs and interests of your target audience by learning as much as you can about them.

From that knowledge, create a headline and title slide that will surely catch people’s attention.

Can your content sustain interest? 

Now that you’ve caught your audience’s attention, the next step is figuring out how to engage and keep them interested.

Keep them on your page by highlighting your core message and key takeaways.

Don’t present your online pitch in a roundabout way. Define your presentation’s premise from the get go and put your main points forward.

This lets your target audience tell that your ideas are in line with what they’re looking for.

They’ll keep clicking to see what’s on the next slide.

Do you have a clear Call-to-Action?

After making a compelling argument, leave your audience with one last powerful statement. Before they move on to find something else to read, don’t forget to make your pitch.

That’s what a Call-to-Action is for. Should they contact you for inquiries? Should they follow you on social media?

End with a clear-cut statement that lets the audience know what you want them to do next.

We can’t emphasize enough how much online presentations can help your brand in the long run. Engage your target audience and gain the leads you need by keeping these 3 things in mind. If you want help with designing an online presentation audiences will never forget, contact us to schedule a conversation with our PowerPoint experts.

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References:

5 Steps To An Integrated Approach To SEO-Friendly Content Marketing.” Marketing Land. March 11, 2014. Accessed February 27, 2015.
Evans, Mark. “The Importance of Really Knowing Your Target Audiences.” Forbes. March 20, 2013. Accessed February 27, 2015.
How Long Do Users Stay on Web Pages?Nielsen Norman Group. Accessed February 27, 2015.
Perfecting Your Presentation Title Slide.” SlideGenius, Inc. October 16, 2014. Accessed February 27, 2015.
Why Your Presentations Need Better Slide Headlines.” SlideGenius, Inc. November 3, 2014. Accessed February 27, 2015.