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How Show and Tell Sells: When to Cut Your PowerPoint Content

Some of the best PowerPoint presentations reject text-heavy slides and make use of visual prompts instead. According to Think Outside the Slide‘s Dave Paradi, using PowerPoint as a recall tool for your main points maximizes its original purpose as a visual aid.

In her article on The Herald, Jenni Sebora explains that people are more responsive to images and pictures. That said, using graphics strategically can give you better audience reactions.

However, people still struggle with deciding when to leave out information from slides. In some cases, a deck becomes a band-aid solution for bad public speaking skills and lack of planning. Poorly designed slide decks are often padded with unnecessary content and tend to do more harm than good.

Here are some instances when showing is telling:

Presenting Data

In this case, it’s alright to display the numbers on your slides. Once you get to the hard facts, your listeners might start losing interest. People’s attention spans don’t last very long, and if you start rambling about statistics not everyone will pay attention.

You could make use of a number of rhetorical techniques to keep people focused on what you’re saying. Or, you can also creatively explain statistical data. This is information that should leave an impression on your audience. Let them process it by adding it in your PowerPoint, but always make sure that it’s easy to understand.

Visual Prompts

People need to feel a connection with their presenter for them to invest in the speech. Creating a narrative for your presentation is an effective way of relating to your audience. If you’re planning to go off on a tangent and tell an anecdote, or provide a brief explanation, use a related visual prompt to start off your speech.

Using a prompt is a good combination of utilizing the audience’s visual memory while keeping the focus on yourself. People will be able to associate your story with images on the slide with minimal distractions. However, you still have to choose your graphics wisely.

Remember that your visual prompt should represent what you’re trying to say. If you’re having a hard time deciding on how to arrange your visual prompts, asking for the opinion of a presentation guru will help you plan your slides.

The Text Stigma

Text is the waterloo of presenters using PowerPoint. People tend to crowd chunks of written information in their slides, not realizing that audiences aren’t supposed to read an essay onscreen. But text isn’t always a bad thing. Used wisely, it can be just as useful as an image.

It’s the way you use the text that matters. Instead of copy-pasting from your original PowerPoint content, replace the block of text on your slide with a sentence or phrase.

Maintaining a healthy balance between image and text in your PowerPoint can still create a powerful and engaging deck.

In Conclusion

One of the difficult decisions presenters face when planning their PowerPoint is when to cut text and when to use images. Make sure to allot time to ponder over your presentation. It’s alright to create informative graphics when presenting data, but make sure to expound on the information you provide

Decide which points you want your listeners to remember, and create strong but simple visual prompts to complement your speech. Don’t be afraid of text, but don’t overdo it either. Moderate your use of words in your slides and, if needed, pair it up with an image.

Creating a good PowerPoint can get tricky, but pulling it off right has numerous benefits for your presentation.

 

References

Sebora, Jenny. “What type of Learner are You?.” Herald Journal. September 15, 2008. Accessed October 7, 2015. www.herald-journal.com/archives/2008/columns/js091508.html
“When Should You Use PowerPoint?” Think Outside The Slide. September 10, 2012. Accessed October 7, 2015. www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/when-should-you-use-powerpoint

 

Featured Image: Imagine Cup 2012” by Imagine Cup on flickr.com

Using PowerPoint Shape Tool to Create Powerful Presentations

The Shapes tool in PowerPoint is very useful for creating diagrams, graphics and other visual elements for your presentations. Its large collection of shapes allows you to add balloons, borders, arrows, and other shape designs in your presentations. This functionality also helps create custom shapes depending on your design requirements.

Working with PowerPoint Shape tool is very easy. It’s as simple as locating the Insert tab and clicking on Shapes. Doing so will launch a popup window where you can choose any shape that you need. To give you an idea, here are a couple of ways you can manipulate shapes in PowerPoint Slides:

Adding Text to Shapes

Draw a shape and then start typing to add text. By default, the texts will be centered on the shape, but you can change alignment by selecting them and using the contextual mini-toolbar.

The text will not auto-re-size, however, to stay within the shape’s borders. It simply adjusts the shape as you continue typing.

To control this, right-click on the shape and select Format Shape. Then, click Text Options and after that, Text Box. Depending on your preference, change it to either “Shrink text on overflow” or “Resize shape to fit text,”

text
Naturally, putting so much text on a shape is not exactly a great idea but at least you know how to work around it. As you create them, both text and the shape become part of the same object.

Deleting the shape will also delete the text. If you want text to be separate from the shape, redraw the shape and use the Text Box tool when you type the text. If you need to move them together, you may choose to group them.

Changing a Shape into Another Shape

Let’s do this with the arrow shape. Choose the arrow from the Shapes menu and add it to your slide.

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Clicking on it will cause two yellow diamonds appear on its opposite sides. These diamonds indicate the areas of the arrow that you can edit.

arrw

 

Click and hold the diamond on the left portion of the arrow. Then, try dragging it for a bit in a downward direction. You will see that this lets you control the width of the arrow’s frame. Click and hold the other diamond at the top of the arrow. Drag it to the right. Doing so allows you to manipulate the size of the pointer.

arrw2

As you control the yellow diamonds, you can change the way the arrow is shown on the slide.

These are just some of the ways you can play with PowerPoint’s Shape functionality. We’ll be doing some more demonstration in the following days, so stay tuned.