Sharing your work and achievements through a presentation is an essential part of gaining the favor of your colleagues in the medical and scientific communities. The ability to do it flawlessly is not an easy feat but doing so effectively greatly contributes to your success.
Engaging your audience and conveying your enthusiasm for the topic at hand, however, may be difficult, especially if you are not presenting it to the medical and scientific communities. This is where many presentations fall flat. Some of the pitfalls include overly complicated content—this is where professional PowerPoint presentations come in.
So, how can you engage your audience and maximize detail retention at the same time?
Illustrate Your Ideas
In the scientific community, proof is vital and for it to be taken seriously, it has to be backed up with enough credible sources. Your presentation doesn’t have to drown in citations, but only use enough backing data to make your point powerful.
Simply telling your audience or providing a wall of text isn’t going to help health information stick. So instead of giving a presentation with text-filled slides, create a custom PowerPoint by using diagrams, graphs, and other types of graphics. These will guide your audience while you explain complex ideas.
You may also use stock photography. These images have improved—no longer appearing staged, but rather more realistic.
Visuals play a huge role as these are handled by a different process in working memory as compared to auditory information—the visuospatial sketchpad.
Animation adds a new level of engagement, as it works as a great storytelling tool. It gives your presentation a bigger impact because it allows you to pace the flow of information, keep your audience engaged, and sync what you’re saying with what they’re seeing.
It can do wonders for your presentation when used properly—conveys your message more powerfully. Using too much, however, may end up distracting your audience. In which case, you’ll be doing the opposite of what you intend to do. Remember: less is more—so don’t overcomplicate your slides and just animate what needs to be emphasized.
Familiarize Yourself with PowerPoint Formatting Tools
You can come up with the best PowerPoint designs by familiarizing yourself with the formatting tools included in the software. When you can manipulate these properly, you can create virtually anything from scratch. It gives you the power to communicate the way you want to, ensuring the audience remembers key information.
In essence, these are various ways to emphasize certain parts of your medical presentation. Not only will these methods make your deck more interesting, but it will help organize your thoughts as well. With these, you can point your audience toward relevant details instead of just showing a wall of text or the whole figure, distracting them from your current point.
Try applying these to your future presentations and see how much of the information was remembered by the audience.
Communication in today’s landscape is one big irony. While the different forms of digital media are thriving, face-to-face conversations are braving what could be called “dark times.” People today are more preoccupied than before—they tend to listen less and talk more. Unsatisfying communication is rampant in both the small setting and the big picture. We see relationships crumble and fights ensue because of the poor way spouses, parents, children, neighbors, friends, and colleagues communicate. We all suffer and endure the negative consequences of this notorious problem, which exists even among political parties, ethnicities, nations, and religions.
And the most disturbing part is that poor communication seems to be more than just a trend but a facet that is deeply ingrained in our present culture. If we look closely at it, communication seems to be both the problem and the solution. The complication can be traced back to people not showing enough interest or having enough forbearance to purse their lips, open their minds, and simply listen. Poor listening is the problem, and deep listening is the answer. Only by acknowledging this fact and working towards achieving it can we bring about a shift in the way communication works in the digital age.
What Deep Listening Truly Means
We all know and practice active listening, which entails repeating what the speaker says and seeking clarification for ambiguous ideas. While active listening is highly encouraged, to truly solve the problem of poor communication, we need to master deep listening, a more contemplative form of communication that involves listening to oneself before others.
Deep listening occurs when your mind is quiet and you’re able to suspend your reactive thinking and just open your thoughts to every possibility. It entails what John Keats called negative capability, which refers to when you’re “capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” The nature of deep listening may appear paradoxical—after all, it claims that to better communicate with others, you must first pay attention to yourself. But by applying the principles of deep listening, you can become a more receptive, emphatic, trusting, and trustworthy listener, which can ultimately lead you to becoming a good communicator.
Three Steps to Connecting with Your Body, Speech, and Mind
According to David Rome and Hope Martin, two trainers who have been studying and teaching deep listening for more than a decade, there are three techniques for tuning in to your mind, body, and speech: awareness meditation, the Alexander technique, and focusing on felt senses. By practicing these techniques, you can keep in touch with all aspects of your being—which is, ultimately, the foundation of deep listening.
1. Awareness Meditation
This type of meditation is known to some as mindfulness and to others, peaceful abiding. Whatever you call it, this principle lies only on two simple ideas: to watch your thoughts come and go without acting on them, and to always return to the present moment no matter what. Usually done in the form of a sitting meditation, it puts emphasis on body presence. One of the main inspirations for this technique is “The Four Foundations of Mindfulness,” an article by Buddhist meditation master Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. It explains the following:
Mindfulness of body. “The basic starting point is solidness, groundedness. When you sit, you actually sit. Even your floating thoughts begin to sit on their own bottoms. You have a sense of solidness and, at the same time, a sense of being.”
Mindfulness of life. “The instinct to live can be seen as containing awareness, meditation, mindfulness. It constantly tunes us into what is happening. So, the life force that keeps us alive itself becomes the practice of mindfulness.”
Mindfulness of effort. “The sudden flash is a key to all Buddhist meditation, from the level of basic mindfulness to the highest levels of tantra. But it is not enough just to hope that a flash will come to us; there must be a background of discipline.”
Mindfulness of mind. “Mind functions singly. Once. And once. One thing at a time. Things always happen one at a time, in a direct, simple movement of mind. Mindfulness of mind is to be there with that one-shot perception, constantly.”
2. The Alexander Technique
This principle is what molds you into developing equanimity so that you can avoid becoming a victim of your life circumstances. It enables you to look after yourself while facing the rigorous demands of life. By assuming an objective point of view, you not only open your mind to see how you interfere with your natural and intrinsic inclinations but also discern which habits and qualities you should let go of.
3. Focusing on Felt Senses
Originating from Western philosophy, this technique involves cultivating three inner skills: self-knowledge, a caring presence, and an intuitive insight. As its name suggests, this principle involves noticing your senses as you feel them. Usually, you don’t pick up these senses in your attention radar, but if you try to be more attentive to your emotions, you will be able to notice them easily. By noticing these sensations before acting on them, you’ll be able to choose your words and actions better in future arguments, helping you improve the way you communicate.
The sum of these three contemplative practices is powerful enough to effect a dramatic change that can impact everyone. If only more people learn and apply these valuable skills, we could all see a significant shift in the quality of communication in the twenty-first century.
Bailey, Joe. “What Is Deep Listening?” Goodlife Zen. n.d. goodlifezen.com/what-is-deep-listening
Popova, Maria. “The Art of ‘Negative Capability’: Keats on Embracing Uncertainty and Celebrating the Mysterious.” Brain Pickings. n.d. www.brainpickings.org/2012/11/01/john-keats-on-negative-capability
Rinpoche, Chogyam Trungpa. “The Four Foundations of Mindfulness.” Lion’s Roar. November 30, 2016. www.lionsroar.com/the-four-foundations-of-mindfulness
“Deep Listening.” Mindful. n.d. www.contemplativemind.org/practices/tree/deep-listening
“Deep Listening.” Mindful. August 26, 2010. www.mindful.org/deep-listening
Whether your business is small or multinational, one thing will always be present. Barring the basic constants (employees, profits, losses, gains, etc.), in one way or another, you’ll always find yourself in a meeting room, giving or receiving a pitch. With the former, how well you do could spell the survivability or demise of your startup company or the guarantee of funds for your next big project. It doesn’t need saying, but a pitch is an important step toward success.
This is why you’ll more likely fret over nailing your pitch the first time rather than wait for a redo. You’ve got the public speaking skill to charm your audiences, but of course, a good support will take you further. That support is your investor pitch deck. You’re already aware of what makes a PowerPoint presentation powerful. At this point, what you need to know is what makes your presentation—and by extension, your business—the winning choice.
Major Paradigm Shift
When technology advances as quickly as one can say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” the world changes as well. Take for instance the evolution of news material from the invention of the printing press to the few short years after online articles became a thing; today, print lags behind digital.
In the same way, figure out what paradigm shift is causing the problem you’re trying to solve. In Andy Raskin’s article, he says Zuora, a software company, has the “greatest sales deck” because they start off framing a change that not only arrests attention but also puts in perspective how the “shift affects [the audience], how it scares them, and where they see opportunities” all at once. During that fleeting moment, you hint where your pitch is going without saying it outright, but just enough to spark curiosity.
One thing that pitches always highlight is how a product works vis-à-vis a solution. “My/Our product can do this and that with these features and those upgrades. I/We believe it’s something that can help people.” There’s nothing wrong with that; in fact, it’s basically a must. If you truly think your business is something that can be beneficial to your target market, or even society, then you would spill your heart out on why your interpretation of a solution is better. But a more general question to ask is, “How bad or big is the problem?”
Put as much flair and buildup into the problem you’re trying to solve as much as you do into your solution. This will give your possible investors a glimpse of, if not completely understand, how said challenge affects people on a larger scale, how your product addresses that, and even your motive and drive to continue working on your proposed solution. Doing so will put into context your enthusiasm during your pitch. It will then be more memorable, and they’ll realize you’re the correct choice.
Before you even started your business, you already researched extensively on your target demographic, logistics, and the many other particulars for your enterprise. Then you release your product, even if it’s an alpha or a beta demo, and gather your results. Keep those numbers and feedback in hand; you’ll need them just as much as the initial research because that’s what you wow your pitch audience with.
Figures give a more concrete achieve and set a more realistic standard than hypotheticals, especially when accompanied by testimonials from customers. Framing and hyping the climax of your pitch is a method of romancing the audience that makes them want more. When you’re done setting up the real numbers for a “hypothetical” product to get their hopes up, that’s when you take them by surprise (but not really, given that you’re pitching something to them) and introduce your…
This is the first time they’re hearing about your actual product. All the data and testimonials you’ve thrown to your audience now have something to fall on—a kind of “a name to a face” logic. You already went all-out with your first few slides, so it’s time to let your proposed solution stand on its own. Don’t just focus on the features that people loved; show and tell what sets you apart from your competitors and why investors should pick you.
Since this is the crux of your pitch, continue with the same level of eagerness you had in the first part as you go for the last stretch. Just because you’re ending doesn’t mean you can let up. If anything, a better conclusion results in a more powerful impact that can guarantee your cashflow and move to a brighter future.
Pitches shouldn’t be necessarily difficult, but when you consider the pressure you feel because of the supposed “life-or-death” outcome of either a small business or a project, the stakes become higher. Don’t let yourself buckle down because of the pressure though. Once you ace this, you’re on your way to more exciting prospects.
Remember what you need to focus on and emphasize on your deck. It’s about your company, your product, and your passion. You may be out looking for funds, but it’s only a step toward your larger goal: solving a problem you know society shouldn’t deal with.
Chuang, Alex. “The Quick and Dirty Guide to Creating a Winning Pitch Deck.” Startup Grind. n.d. www.startupgrind.com/blog/the-quick-and-dirty-guide-to-creating-a-winning-pitch-deck
Eckler, Daniel. “How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder.” Medium. n.d. www.medium.com/swlh/how-to-design-a-pitch-deck-lessons-from-a-seasoned-founder-c816d1ae7272
Harroch, Richard. “How to Create a Great Investor Pitch Deck for Startups Seeking Financing.” Forbes. March 4, 2017. www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2017/03/04/how-to-create-a-great-investor-pitch-deck-for-startups-seeking-financing/#db6b7f62003e
Lee, Aaron. “30 Legendary Startup Pitch Decks and What You Can Learn from Them.” Piktochart. n.d. www.piktochart.com/blog/startup-pitch-decks-what-you-can-learn
Lenaerts, Sven. “10 Presentation Design Tips (for the Best Pitch Deck).” Envato Tuts+. May 25, 2016. business.tutsplus.com/tutorials/10-presentation-design-tips-for-the-best-pitch-deck–cms-24860
Raskin, Andy. “The Greatest Sales Deck I’ve Ever Seen.” The Mission. September 15, 2016. www.themission.co/the-greatest-sales-deck-ive-ever-seen-4f4ef3391ba0
Welton, Caysey. “Across Age Groups, Print Lags Far Behind Digital and TV as a News Source.” Folio: Magazine. June 21, 2016. www.foliomag.com/across-age-groups-print-lags-far-behind-digital-and-tv-as-a-news-source
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Has it ever happened to you that, when crafting slides for a great presentation, you’ve got multiple objects to select, copy, paste, move, etc. And working with your mouse is slowly but surely becoming tedious, exhausting, and time-consuming? To be fair, it’s not limited to just PowerPoint.
In almost every program on desktop, and even the operating systems (Windows and Mac) themselves, there are specific sequences and/or combinations of keyboard presses that correspond to functions and commands, called keyboard shortcuts.
Ever wondered what the keys on the bottom row are for, specifically the Ctrl (Control) and Alt (Alternate) keys? They’re integral to keyboard shortcuts. If it’s not Ctrl plus a key, then it’s Alt plus another key—or both Ctrl and Alt. To give you an example, if you’re a Windows user, then you’re familiar with the desktop shortcut “Alt + Tab” for cascading through different active windows/open programs. There’s “Ctrl + Alt + Del” as well, opening a Securities Options menu where you can choose Task Manager, among other things.
In short, keyboard shortcuts give you access to functions that are usually hard to access by mouse. But they don’t stop there. If efficiency didn’t cross your mind the first time you read the phrase “keyboard shortcuts,” since they make a certain number of functions faster to do, then how about health? Repetitive strain injury (RSI) has been linked with too much computer mouse use. Although extended keyboard use has also been linked to RSI, an average person uses the mouse more than a keyboard. At least with keyboard shortcuts, you’re balancing your use of both computer accessories with less risks involved.
Now, when creating those enticing slides, what shortcuts are available to you? Check this gifographic to learn what you can train yourself to use and share with your presentation friends. You can bet that experienced presentation designers and public speakers use the hotkeys below to help them go through their PowerPoint files quicker and better.
Jones, Steven C. “Computer Work Postures and Injury: The Stress of Reaching for the Mouse, a Doctor’s Perspective.” Business Know-How. n.d. www.businessknowhow.com/manage/computer-mouse-injuries.htm
Klosowski, Thorin. “Back to Basics: Learn to Use Keyboard Shortcuts Like a Ninja.” Lifehacker. December 20, 2012. www.lifehacker.com/5970089/back-to-the-basics-learn-to-use-keyboard-shortcuts-like-a-ninja
“5 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Keyboard Shortcuts.” Shortcut Keys. n.d. www.shortcutkeys.net/why-use-shortcuts
When reading, isn’t it bothersome to see a typographical error that distracts you from peacefully enjoying the piece? There’s the nagging feeling that “teh” should be “the,” that “your” should be “you’re,” or that “should of” is completely wrong. If tenses are all over the place or the subject-verb agreement isn’t correct, then that impression of the mistake gives way to disappointment and silent rage. Typos are distracting, to say the least.
To curb typographical errors, the responsibility of proofreading content falls squarely upon your shoulders. Be it a blog post, a book waiting to be published, or even a social media update, any piece of content should be proofread before publishing and publicizing, lest you be subject to the anger-inciting asterisk.
“But wait,” you may probably say. “What’s the difference between proofreading and editing? And there’s revision, too.” It’s time to contrast.
Revising vs. Editing vs. Proofreading
Revising entails the “re-visioning” of the whole piece; you gauge and, if ever, change how you approach your topic. Some of the main questions you need to consider when revising are, “Did the last draft fail to answer important questions, and does the recent one succeed?” and “Is the argument clear and understandable?”
Editing is done so that the whole piece is coherent and unified. You check the flow from one sentence to another and the logic from one paragraph to the next to discern whether the transitions are clear and smooth. If not, then rearrange paragraphs, rewrite sentences, and make the according edits.
Proofreading, the lightest of the three, is where you look for misspelled words, misused punctuation marks, and improper verb tenses and subject-verb agreements to fix them. This is the last step you should do before posting your content.
You must also check your PowerPoint presentation to ensure it doesn’t have any errors (and if it does, edit). Other than showing that you took the time to perfect your slide, it also implies the following notions:
Apart from the fact that typographical errors and grammatical mistakes are distracting (diverting your reader’s attention to the typo itself), they take focus away from the message of your presentation in PowerPoint. There are more possible misinterpretations of a line missing a word, a missing letter crucial to the intended definition of the word (think “pubic” instead of “public”), or inconsistent tenses.
While it may be said that the human mind internally corrects the mistake, it’s still an unnecessary mental activity for the reader. Instead of focusing on and absorbing your piece, they’re looking out for mistakes just to satisfy the feeling that what they’re reading is clean and error-free—if they even decide to keep reading your piece.
Instead of muddling and muffling your piece’s flow of information because of errors, make sure your copy is clean and polished. Take the time to think about how your audience reads your article. When you see a typo, correct it right away.
Often, if you read content rife with grammatical and typographical errors, your judgment on it is, “This must have been done by an amateur.” Contrast that with well-proofread copies, and the stigma of unprofessionalism is gone.
Careless mistakes are always a show of unprofessionalism. It can imply that you weren’t fully prepared with your slides or that you crammed your PowerPoint presentation. It can mean that you never bothered to check for mistakes after your first draft or that you didn’t organize everything effectively and efficiently.
This is why there is a practice in any printed publication to correct any factual or typographical errors that made it past layers of editing, albeit in the next edition. Unfortunately, this doesn’t hold as true for digital copies even though editing them is easier to do. Make sure you don’t fall into the same trap.
Which do you go for: “toward” or “towards”? “Color” or “colour”? If you’re not careful, you might end up using two kinds of English in a single piece.
Having a consistent voice and tone is a must, if not for regional differences then for establishing yourself as a proficient English speaker and communicator. If you use American English, then keep it that way throughout your piece; if you’re going for British, then make your spelling and idiom use consistent. It may sound traditionalist, but there are critics of this kind of inconsistency. Plus, it helps define your target market without alienating the other party.
All in all, keep your content error-free. It’s a secret to crafting great copies. Even in school, you were trained to submit perfect essays and reports since having typos usually meant markdowns. It’s the same when it comes to business, only with far-reaching consequences. When you’re in front of a crowd whose decision could shape your life and/or career, you wouldn’t want to risk making the kind of mistake.
Writers live by a general rule, and it’s a good exercise of their English and organizational skills. “Write in white heat; revise/edit in cold blood.” Any word work you do falls under this rule. There are no exceptions. Not even your slides. The task of proofreading falls upon you, the content creator, and definitely not a PowerPoint presentation designer.
Scocco, Daniel. “The Impotence of Proofreading.” Daily Writing Tips. n.d. www.dailywritingtips.com/the-impotence-of-proofreading
Wasielewski, Jarek. “The Importance of Proofreading Your Webinar.” Webinar Tips Blog. September 25, 2015. blog.clickmeeting.com/the-importance-of-proofreading-your-webinar
Wright, Catharine. “Revision, Editing and Proofreading: What’s the Difference?” Peer Writing Tutors & FYS Mentors. February 14, 2011. sites.middlebury.edu/peer_writing_tutors/2011/02/14/revision-editing-and-proofreading-what%E2%80%99s-the-difference
Wroblewski, M.T. “The Importance of Proofreading in the Workforce.” Chron. n.d. smallbusiness.chron.com/importance-proofreading-workforce-36110.html
Zimmer, John. “Five Typographical Errors to Avoid on Your Slides.” Manner of Speaking. November 6, 2010. www.mannerofspeaking.org/2010/11/06/five-typographical-errors-to-avoid-on-your-slides
“How Proofreading Services Can Make Your Next Presentation a Success.” Re:word. n.d. www.reword.ca/how-proofreading-services-can-make-your-next-presentation-a-success
Corporate PowerPoint templates are notorious for their impracticality and ineffectiveness. This is because they’re usually created by people with limited knowledge or experience in design. If you are guilty of this sin, then you should hire a slide design professional who can amp up your template’s look and feel. The aesthetics of your presentation can reflect the amount of dedication you put in it, so make sure you create a template that is engaging and attractive.
The general goals of a presentation are to communicate a message, make a point, and sell an idea. A bad template can undermine these goals and inhibit you from delivering an effective presentation. Here are some of the most common components of an awful-looking presentation template, alongside some tips on how to rectify them.
6 Elements of a Bad PowerPoint Template and How to Fix Them
What do bad presentation templates have in common? They all lack a unifying idea that marries content and design. Awful-looking presentations are ambiguous, and from this major flaw springs others. Although the following elements seem inconsequential, they can still leave a great impact on your template’s final look, usability, and effectiveness.
1. Inadequate features
A good presentation template should be flexible enough to meet the company’s needs. Otherwise, it will be of no use. Include the fundamental features in your template, but don’t stop there. Make sure you include not only an opening and ending slide but also transition slides, master slides, and other standard slides that can enhance your message. Apart from this, you should also provide a guidebook that will instruct and direct the presenters as to the proper uses of the template. Provide demonstration videos and actual presentation samples if necessary.
2. Lack of visual elements
One of the worst things you can do to a presentation template is to deprive it of an emotional element. Templates that are riddled with unnecessary bullets and large walls of text do nothing but insult the audience’s time and attention. Don’t encourage presenters to bombard their presentations with lengthy passages. Set presentation guidelines that limit ideas to one per slide. To add an emotional trigger, encourage the use of visual tools like graphics and videos. Let the presenters bring their ideas to life through emotive and photographic elements.
3. Weak color palette with poor contrast
Many things can go wrong with your chosen palette. For instance, you might choose a color theme that may not reflect your brand. The colors may not be appropriate to the image you want to project and the message you want to communicate. Another thing that may go awry is the color contrasting of the fonts and backgrounds. As you know, weak contrast results to poor readability, which will render your text invisible, and thus, worthless. To avoid this problem, always calculate the effect of a certain font color on the background. Finally, be careful about the inclusion of weak and/or daring colors in your theme. Weak colors can weaken your design, and daring colors can disorient your audience.
4. Unreadable typography
Typography is one of the most important elements of a presentation since it can set the stage for the content. There are two important aspects of typography: size and style. You need to get these two right to achieve an effective presentation. Make sure the standard font size you set is not lower than 44 points. This size is large enough to command attention but not too large that it looks ludicrous. You also need to consider the font style. Traditional serif fonts look formal and professional while sans serif fonts are more modern and clean-looking. Use what’s appropriate for your presentation.
When you use custom fonts, make sure they’re installed in external computers. The thing about custom fonts is that they can mess up the layout of your slides if the computer you’re using doesn’t support them. Embed the true type fonts into the presentation to avoid this fiasco.
5. Cheesy effects
Perhaps the biggest PowerPoint nightmares are the cheesy effects, which include transitions, sound effects, and animations. It’s understandable if you want to spice up your template, but find better ways to do that other than adding inappropriate effects to your presentation. However, if you feel like you need to use the said effects because they offer a functional purpose, make sure to use them sparingly. Instead of the default sound effects from the PowerPoint library, embed background music from external resources. As for animations and transitions, make sure they add value to your content. Use only what’s absolutely crucial for the presentation.
6. Use of clipart and stock photos
Visual elements are generally good, but there are certain design taboos that you should avoid. We’re talking about clipart and clichéd stock photos. No matter how hard you try, you won’t find a reason compelling enough to justify the use of clipart in your deck. Nothing screams “lame” louder than mediocre symbols in a modern corporate presentation. The same thing goes for stock images. There are many staged and cringeworthy photos that will only lessen the value of your template if you’re careless enough to use them. If you’re going to use photos, go for genuine-looking ones that can trigger emotional reactions from the audience.
If you address these bad design habits that plague many PowerPoint presentations today, you will save your company major headaches. Fix these problems and watch as your presentation templates reach a different level of beauty, usability, and effectiveness.
Chibana, Nayomi. “Color Theory for Presentations: How to Choose the Perfect Colors for Your Designs.” Visme. December 28, 2015. blog.visme.co/how-to-choose-a-color-scheme
Godin, Seth. “Really Bad PowerPoint.” Type Pad. January 29, 2007. sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2007/01/really_bad_powe.html
Hristov, Boris. “Reality Check: Is Your Company’s PowerPoint Template Bad?” Medium. January 19, 2016. medium.com/@borishristov/reality-check-is-your-company-powerpoint-template-bad-bf6ff82780ef#.4kkk8wijb
Mancini, Sunday. “4 Common PowerPoint Template Mistakes.” Ethos 3. May 26, 2016. www.ethos3.com/2016/05/4-common-powerpoint-template-mistakes
Panzironi, Michelle. “7 PowerPoint Mistakes That Make You Look Old.” Forbes. January 16, 2016. www.forbes.com/sites/propointgraphics/2016/01/16/7-powerpoint-mistakes-that-make-you-look-hella-old/#41da1a5234e7
“10 Tips for Designing Presentations That Don’t Suck: Part 1.” Work Front. February 2, 2017. resources.workfront.com/project-management-blog/10-tips-for-designing-presentations-that-dont-suck-part-1
“10 Ways to Spot a Lame Corporate PowerPoint Template.” PowerPoint Ninja. n.d. www.powerpointninja.com/templates/10-ways-to-spot-a-lame-corporate-powerpoint-template
“Choosing the Right Fonts for Your PowerPoint Presentation.” Documents with Precision. March 10, 2016. www.documentswithprecision.com/choosing-right-fonts-powerpoint-presentation
Have you ever wondered about the makings of a perfect slide? Or if not perfect, at least a strong and impressionable one? Many answers are found online, and for just as many reasons, that you just can’t be sure which is correct. You could say, of course, that there are niche functions for what objects or elements you put on your deck, but does that make your slides strong individually and/or as a whole?
Blank slides often bear no weight, so you fill them up with visual elements. But being willy-nilly with what you put in there will make the effort counterproductive: the more objects in your slide, the more cluttered and distracting it becomes. It’s best to strike the balance between too much and too few.
Now, what are your options? The following elements are the necessities of a powerful slide. What’s more powerful is how you use them, vis-à-vis standalones or any number of combinations thereof.
You can’t start creating a presentation without a central message and a theme. While everything around your presentation revolves around the former, your slides are designed per the latter. This can be a broad term, extending from color scheme to branding to even subtle details like typography and illustration style.
Choose an appropriate theme for your topic. It’s not a good idea to have a presentation about the wonders of nature but accent your slides with a black color scheme.
While it doesn’t need to appear in every slide, it does mark where you are in terms of your whole presentation. It can also denote that a specific slide is noteworthy. Subtitles, to a degree, extend a title and branch out to other points, but it also doesn’t have to be ubiquitous.
Knowing when or when not to put a title maximizes the impact of the slide on the audience. Be clever with it. Wit is always appreciated.
Imagine a theater stage with no backdrop—nothing to tell the setting or set the mood. The same goes for slides, even if it works on a case-by-case basis. Slide backgrounds reinforce the theme or branding of the presenter and set the mood for the audience.
Your background doesn’t need to be flashy. Even plain white can be appealing, especially when given the proper treatment. As long as it’s appropriate, as with theme, then you can make it work.
Getting to the meat of your message can be done in two ways: with your content or through pictures. With the former, less is more. A few select words can deliver bigger impact—and be remembered more easily—than a paragraph or two that dances around your point.
This is one of the things abused by those who have little experience with slide design. Think “death by PowerPoint.” Walls of text are to be avoided, of course, but having little to none on your slides can and does pay off.
Pictures solicit or trigger strong emotional responses from anyone in a heartbeat. If your “less is more” with text can’t be achieved, try using an image that encapsulates and describes what words can’t do efficiently. You will see the results immediately.
Since humans are visual creatures, they process and react much faster to an image compared to words that are then read and understood. It’s, literally, seeing a bigger picture. All it takes is one look to make a point.
There are two kinds of effects that you can set in a slide: the shifting Transition and the object-focused Animation. You can highlight and emphasize points or objects and switch from one slide to another in style. Movements catch attention—a result of survival instinct and evolution to notice objects in motion—so take advantage of that fact with PowerPoint’s animation settings.
A word of caution though: use only when necessary. Don’t risk distracting your audience by overusing effects. A gimmick for gimmick’s sake will only be detrimental for your presentation.
Cold, hard figures are exactly that. Cold. And boring. Instead of plainly showing numbers and percentages, use charts or graphs, even the occasional diagrams, to show your data in a more entertaining—and by extension more educational—manner.
The more creative your chart or graph is, the more lasting the impression that the data makes. Think of how infographics use design to show statistics: with creativity, wit, and humor. Employ the same to your slides.
Now you could be thinking, “I need all seven in just one slide? This is madness!” No, you just need a couple, like a combination of Background, Text, and Effect. Some can stand on its own, for example, Title or Image. It will only be a distraction to put all seven, so only put what you need.
Lastly, as already said above, the most important element of any slide is the overall message of your presentation. Each part of your visual aid should point toward, support, and strengthen the crux of the whole exercise. You wouldn’t be onstage talking about your advocacy then jumping to a different matter altogether just because.
Everything about your PowerPoint presentation should revolve around your message. Any combination of the elements above serve as parts of a whole, all working in harmony to inform and educate your audience. And that is the key factor to wowing your audience.
Finkelstein, Ellen. “3 Components of an Effective Presentation.” EllenFinkelstein.com. December 6, 2000. www.ellenfinkelstein.com/pptblog/3-components-of-an-effective-presentation
Kawasaki, Guy. “The Only 10 Slides You Need in Your Pitch.” GuyKawasaki.com. March 5, 2015. www.guykawasaki.com/the-only-10-slides-you-need-in-your-pitch
Mineo, Ginny. “Your Graphs Look Like Crap: 9 Ways to Simplify and Sexify Data.” HubSpot. October 7, 2013. blog.hubspot.com/marketing/data-graph-design-powerpoint-tips-ht#sm.0001frknxr3k3dlkqq22lsqtd9h7a
Tate, Andrew. “10 Scientific Reasons People Are Wired to Respond to Your Visual Marketing.” Canva. May 19, 2015. designschool.canva.com/blog/visual-marketing
“The Elements of a Slide.” Boundless. n.d. www.boundless.com/communications/textbooks/boundless-communications-textbook/preparing-and-using-visual-aids-16/using-powerpoint-and-alternatives-successfully-85/the-elements-of-a-slide-325-5653
“To err is human,” the adage goes. While not completely skipping the latter half, let’s accept the fact that we, as humans, make mistakes. It’s completely natural, albeit embarrassing—especially when in public. The moral of the story is that you have to make sure it doesn’t happen, right?
There are lessons taught the easy way: anticipate the blunder and avoid doing it. Then there are those only learned the hard way, the ones you must experience first before you can say, “That shouldn’t happen again.”
Barring advice from more experienced speakers and presenters, presentation mistakes can either be of those. The rub, though, is that there are many things that could possibly go wrong that only those with experience can fully prepare for everything.
Here are the most common problems—and how you avoid them—that amateur and professional presenters alike may still experience.
There is a myriad of presentation design tips out there, so let’s cover only the basic/common ones.
Color contrast. Keep your choice of colors contrasting: dark text on light background or light text on dark background. If it makes your text easily readable, then that pair—or trio if you have three colors—has great harmony.
Wall of text. A reading spree will bore your audience. Instead, a few simple, powerful words is enough to drive the point home and make an impact. If not words, a meaningful image will do the trick; poignant, nostalgic, rousing, etc., the more emotions the picture solicits, the better. The clincher? Either of those on a single slide for maximum impact.
Too many slides. Drag your presentation on and on, and you’ll bore your audience. Attention is a fragile thing. A good guideline to follow is Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 Rule: 10 slides in 20 minutes with a 30-point font. That way, you’ll be able to punch in more points with fewer slides.
If you’re not tech-savvy, then the following technical problems—or technological—will be the most complicated ones you’ll encounter.
Connecting to the projector. There are two areas for this blunder: Mac and Windows. First with the latter, most PCs and laptops that aren’t made by Apple have dedicated VGA ports, so you’re covered. There will still be occasional problems, like screens not displaying correctly—or at all—or distorted resolutions, but those are easily fixed with a little tinkering on the Display settings. If you’re rocking a MacBook, though, then chances are you’ll find yourself scrambling to find the extensions and adapters necessary to connect. So…
Not bringing your own cables. It would be prudent to carry your own gadgets to the venue: VGA adapters, additional USB port extensions, etc. Speakers will find bringing their own stuff is better when they learn on the day itself that the place isn’t fully equipped. Considering that Apple’s ports are, if anything, unique to everything but to those of the same brand, you can’t reasonably and practically expect every venue to have complete equipment. Of course, Windows users will find the practice time-conserving too. Bottom line: just to be safe, bring your own cables.
Videos not playing. If you plan to use videos during your speech, then you need lots of preparation before going onstage. If you’re using YouTube externally (switching from slideshow to Internet browser), secure a good Internet connection and preload the page; if you’re showing short scenes from a long clip, skip ahead to the relevant parts.
Linking is a different game though: You’re basically putting on your slide a “shortcut” button to a video in a specific file path. If you’re not using your own computer, then you need to transfer both presentation and video files and relink to make sure that the “shortcut” has the correct file path.
Freezing or crashing. Sometimes, it seems like devices have minds of their own, and speakers are forced to encounter a hurdle they can’t control—but can handle gracefully. In cases of computer meltdowns—a sudden hiccup may be tolerable, but a blue screen of death is hard to recover from—losing your cool is a no-no. Don’t panic. Instead, you can:
For a system hiccup, tell a few jokes, maybe something about technology, while waiting for it to resolve itself (heighten the suspense and kill the tension);
For a sudden crash, since you know it’s going to take some time, tell a story while the computer reboots; or
For a blue screen of death, well, nothing much to do about it but to restart the computer, tell stories and/or jokes (see the pattern now?), and just pick up where you left off.
The bottom line here is not to panic and/or just leave. Sure, it’s embarrassing, but handling the whole situation with dignity, and a bit of humor, will overshadow that little blunder.
The Importance of Proper Preparation for a Presenter
The talk itself notwithstanding, those are some of the most common problems presenters face before and during a public speech. But perhaps there’s a more common problem that is easily corrected but overlooked most of the time: lack of proper preparation. Most people don’t realize that this is the biggest enemy before anyone who undertakes an endeavor. It can manifest itself in many forms, including everything above. It’s also what separates amateurs from professionals.
Does that mean that professionals who make mistakes are amateurish? No, of course not. There are circumstances without a person’s reach, and those are the ones you must be careful with. Everything else, you learn to avoid with the right mentality, attitude, and dignity.
Duarte, Nancy. “Five Presentation Mistakes Everyone Makes.” Harvard Business Review. December 12, 2012. www.hbr.org/2012/12/avoid-these-five-mistakes-in-y
Ezekiel, Rebecca. “10 Most Common Presentation Mistakes.” Presentation Prep. n.d. www.presentationprep.com/10-most-common-presentation-mistakes
Harvey, Jim. “5 Most Common Tech Problems for Presenters… and How to Avoid Them.” Presentation Guru. August 2, 2016. www.presentation-guru.com/the-5-most-common-technical-problems-for-presenters-and-how-to-avoid-them
Kawasaki, Guy. “The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.” GuyKawasaki.com. December 30, 2005. www.guykawasaki.com/the_102030_rule
Marr, Bernard. “The Deadliest Presentation Mistakes Anyone Can Avoid.” LinkedIn Pulse. October 30, 2014. www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141030071401-64875646-the-deadliest-presentation-mistakes-anyone-can-avoid?trk=prof-post&trk=prof-post
Newbold, Curtis. “Top 12 Most Annoying PowerPoint Presentation Mistakes.” The Visual Communication Guy. September 24, 2013. thevisualcommunicationguy.com/2013/09/24/top-12-most-annoying-powerpoint-presentation-mistakes
Olakunori, Giovanni. “30 Common Presentation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.” Larnedu. August 27, 2014. www.larnedu.com/2014/08/27/30-common-presentation-mistakes-avoid
Russell, Wendy. “The 10 Most Common Presentation Mistakes.” About, Inc. n.d. presentationsoft.about.com/od/presentationmistakes/tp/080722_presentation_mistakes.htm
“10 Common Presentation Mistakes.” Mind Tools. n.d. www.mindtools.com/pages/article/presentation-mistakes.htm
PowerPoint is one of the most important programs in Microsoft Office. It features a competitive range of graphical and presentation tools, making it useful for both personal and business applications. PowerPoint 2016, its most recent version, marks almost three years of productivity since the last update. This newest application doesn’t come with dramatic changes. In fact, most of its additional features are enhancements from the previous version.
What sets the real difference with PowerPoint 2016 (and with Office 2016 in general) is the fact that it focuses on enhancing user experience on the cloud. It encourages a collaborative workspace where documents can be shared and used online. It also aims to represent and ultimately fine-tune the synergetic culture that pervades the current work system.
Basically, what Microsoft wants is to get consumers into a new way of thinking about its products. The techno giant wants its brand to be associated with cloud availability, innovation, and timeliness. By offering new features and constant updates, Microsoft aims to pan out its new brand identity—but, of course, consumers need to be onboard for that to happen.
Is This Upgrade Worth Your Money?
Now, the question is, would upgrading to PowerPoint 2016 be in your best interest? Or can you work just as fine with the version you have, however old? The simple answer is this: you won’t miss out on anything big by choosing to not upgrade. Upgrading is not compulsory, after all. You’ll still have the basics that come with every version—all you’ll miss are the new features.
So, the real question now is whether you want the new features or not. Remember, a new version means a new software, and a new software means smarter and more updated features. Finally, you have to remember that PowerPoint is used by over 500 million users worldwide, with 120 million of them using it for business and educational purposes. Just imagine how many of that number have already chosen to upgrade their accounts. Worth a thought, isn’t it?
To help you decide whether or not PowerPoint 2016 is worth your money, here’s an infographic outlining some of its best and newest features.
Bjork, Dawn. “What Are the Top 10 PowerPoint 2016 New Features?” The Software Pro. n.d. thesoftwarepro.com/powerpoint-2016-new-features
Sartain, JD. “Check Out PowerPoint 2016’s Best New Features: Charts, Effects, and More.” PC World. January 18, 2016. www.pcworld.com/article/3018735/software/check-out-powerpoint-2016s-best-new-features-charts-effects-and-more.html
“PowerPoint Usage and Market Share.” Infogram. n.d. infogr.am/PowerPoint-usage-and-Marketshare
“What’s New in PowerPoint 2016.” Microsoft Training. August 17, 2015. www.microsofttraining.net/b/whats-new-powerpoint-2016
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Click Here to Sign Up for FREE Note: This tutorial is also applicable to Microsoft PowerPoint 2013.
Videos are effective at both informing and entertaining audiences and are useful for minimizing text. As visual aids, they’re great for explaining complicated subjects or demonstrating a product or process, making your presentation more dynamic and engaging.
That’s why you should embed videos in PowerPoint 2016 for an audience that has trouble paying attention to long strings of text. Videos can also be useful for minimizing the slides you need so your pitch can be more succinct.
You’d be impressed to find out that you can put videos into your deck without even leaving PowerPoint. Let’s run through two ways you can place videos into your slides for a more dynamic and engaging presentation.
Before you start embedding videos into your slide, check if the videos you want to use are free for personal or commercial use. If not, ask for permission from the video owner first.
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When you link a video to your PowerPoint, it can only be played if you have an online connection. If you’ll use videos from the Web, make sure you have a reliable Internet network during your pitch.
There’s plenty of video-sharing Web sites out there, but for this tutorial, let’s use YouTube as an example.
1. Go to the ribbon and click on the Insert tab.
2. Under the Media group, click on Video and select “Online Video…” from the dropdown options.
3. A window named Insert Video will appear. This will look different from the option to insert a video directly from your PC. If you’re signed in with your Windows ID, you’ll see an additional option aside from YouTube and From Video Embed Code: OneDrive – Personal, which lets you embed videos directly from your OneDrive account.
4. If you’re not signed in, or if you don’t have a Windows ID, only YouTube and From Video Embed Code will appear as your options. This is a helpful feature to have when you’re editing a presentation on the go. However, you need to make sure you’re logged in with your Windows ID to access this feature.
These options each have a box beside it, which you’ll fill out with relevant information. We’ll walk you through each one below. YouTube
Simply paste your video’s URL into this field. Additionally, PowerPoint can do more than just that.
This field also serves as a search box. You can type a few keywords, and all videos related to your search query will show up.
Wait for the video’s thumbnail to load. Once it’s loaded, click on it. Then, click Insert to place the video into your slide. You can drag the video around and resize it whichever way you want.
From Video Embed Code
You can grab a video’s embed code from its YouTube page and paste it into this field. Be sure to check the video’s pixel width and height in the embed code (written as ‘width=”___” height=”___”’). Plugging in this code will resize the video to those dimensions and may result in different resolutions across screens.
You can also manually edit the numbers in the “width” and “height” sections to make the video fit your slides. This helps if you want all of your videos to follow a specific size throughout your presentation.
B. Embedding Videos from Your PC
You can’t always rely on reliable Internet access when embedding online videos. The good thing is that you can embed videos you’ve saved on your computer. Whether your venue has good reception or not, deliver your presentation as you intended—with visually impressive results.
1. Go to the ribbon and click on the Insert tab.
2. Under the Media group, click on Video and select Video on My PC… from the dropdown options. A window named Insert Video will appear, which will allow you to choose among your personal or downloaded files.
3. Once you’ve clicked on the video you want to embed, go to the lower right corner of the Insert Video window and click on the Insert button.
That’s it! You’ve embedded an offline video into your PowerPoint.
Bonus Info: Where to Find Video Embed Codes in YouTube
1. Open your Web browser of choice. Then, go to the YouTube page of the video you want to embed.
2. Look for the Share button below the Subscribe button. Click on it to reveal three tabs: Share, Embed and Email.
3. Click on the Embed tab. A box with the highlighted embed code will appear.
4. Once you’ve found the embed code, right click on the highlighted text and copy. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + C. To do this, hold down Ctrl, then press the C key on your keyboard.
Watch this video tutorial and learn how to embed videos in PowerPoint 2016
Now you know how to embed offline and online videos!
Thanks to continuous software updates, images and videos are now easier to embed, giving you more possibilities to visually enhance your presentation. Make sure that you carefully apply each step for a more effective and attention-grabbing PowerPoint deck.
To deliver a more dynamic and engaging animated PowerPoint presentation, get in touch with a SlideGenius expert. We can even offer you a free quote.
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