The do’s and don’ts of PowerPoint etiquette aren’t explicitly laid out. Good manners are handed down to us by family, which we build on as we learn life’s lessons. Everyone is expected to conduct themselves appropriately and treat each other reasonably.
Unsurprisingly, this also applies when delivering a pitch. PowerPoint is more than two decades old and it’s become a staple in corporate life. But common sense still isn’t so common when it comes to PowerPoint etiquette. There’s a simple code of conduct when giving a presentation.
Speakers who pay attention to protocol show how professional and respectable they are. Here are a few tips to help you become a credible presenter:
Get a Head Start
Make a good first impression by arriving on time. There’s nothing fashionable about being late. It results in a domino effect of delays and inconveniences, and the time lost can’t be brought back. Arriving ahead of time is always better, so you can check the equipment for your presentation.
Technical difficulties can be avoided by checking for hardware problems and by having a backup plan. People also appreciate feeling that their time is valued. The longer it takes you to finish, the more of someone else’s time you’re taking. This makes them feel grateful, and even more likely to tune into your performance.
So make sure to start and end on time.
Begin your speech with a smile. Even if you’re having a bad day, don’t project your mood to your audience. Ask everyone how their day was and spread a positive vibe. You can then ask the audience to help you trim down other sources of distraction, the most notorious being the smartphone.
Politely ask if your listeners can put their smartphone on silent. It’s distracting for both the audience and the speaker when it’s being used in the middle of a presentation. Even if not all of them put away their phones, at least you were polite enough to ask.
Their focus is already split between you and your slides. Help yourself and the audience by simply asking for distractions to be put away.
You are the center of the presentation, and your deck is simply there to complement your content. Don’t let your deck be the point of distraction between you and your audience.
At the same time, precisely because it’s a visual tool, you need to consider other things as well. According to bestselling author, Michael Hyatt, readability is crucial in a PowerPoint. Take note that your slide will be projected from a distance. Not all projectors are the same, some aren’t powerful enough to render small fonts properly.
Take the necessary precaution and choose a font no smaller than 30pt. Very few words can fit on a slide with a font size reaching triple digits. Using little to no words on a slide isn’t rude towards the audience. In fact, the opposite is true.
This just shows that you’re prepared to explain the material without having to rely on your slides.
We can’t always be aware of how we behave, especially on stage. Having good manners is important in leaving a good impression. Punctuality takes practice, so make it a habit to develop good time management skills. Be courteous to others and smile.
Appreciate people’s time by making sure your presentation starts and ends as scheduled. You can also reduce the amount of distractions so that you and the audience can focus. Lastly, your deck is there as a complement, not a substitute.
So make sure to prepare your deck thoroughly and exercise good PowerPoint etiquette.
Hyatt, Michael. “5 Rules for More Effective Presentations.” Michael Hyatt. July 10, 2012. Accessed October 13, 2015. www.michaelhyatt.com/5-rules-for-more-effective-presentations.html
Featured Image: “Serious for Some” by Lachlan Hardy on flickr.com