10 Tips to Make Your Presentations More Productive

How to Stop Wasting People's Time with PowerPoint

Powerpoint.

Even the word, makes many people cringe.

If you have ever been in an endless PowerPoint presentation, you know exactly what I am talking about.

PowerPoint is supposed to be a great way to present your ideas. Yet, most people are not effective when they use it.

Today, I have 10 tips to help your presentations be more productive.

The Pain of Powerpoint

PowerPoint is the bane of the workplace. (And the pain?)

PowerPoint is the kid’s toy in the Microsoft Office suite. You have to know what you are doing to professionally format a Word document. And the average individual has no idea what to do in Excel. (Hint: Neither do most analysts.)

So, PowerPoint is where most people play when they are trying to express themselves or to look important. They make endless slides of disorganized thoughts, they slap a few pretty images and clip art in it, and voila!!! A presentation.

It’s the adult version of Play-Doh in the workplace. Everyone likes to play with it, yet the end results are never pretty or professional looking.

And there is a reason they call it, “Death by PowerPoint.” Most of these presentations are a complete waste of time. Boring or simply confusing your audience into submission.

Crafting an effective presentation is hard work. And it takes time, effort, and practice. It is definitely a learned skill. While I cannot instantly make you a top presenter, I can provide you with some of the basic do’s and don’ts that will make your presentations better.

Here are 10 Tips to Make Your Presentation More Productive:

  1. Don’t Use PowerPoint – My first tip is to avoid PowerPoint. If you must use slides, consider using better software. Keynote, Apple’s presentation software, produces cleaner and more focused presentations. There are other options, as well. Some people like Prezi, which is a slick online tool. (Just be careful not to get lost in it’s fancy animations. See tip #8.)
  2. Better Yet, Don’t Use a Projector – If you don’t need an onscreen presentation, then by all means skip it. Actually, talking to your audience is more powerful that making them look at slides. When you turn on the projector and dim the lights… how can you not expect your audience to tune out and get sleepy? (Especially in that dreaded 1PM time slot).
  3. Make the Message Clear – If you are giving a presentation, your audience should immediately know the topic. It’s amazing how many presentations are so vague and lost in slides, that the audience doesn’t even know the main topic.
  4. 10 Slides Only – I have seen sales presentations that are 156 slides long. (Ironically, the client stopped it after 15 slides.) Limit your presentation to 10 slides. No more. If you can’t get your topic across in 10 slides, you probably need to go back to the drawing board. Either you need focus or you don’t know what you are trying to accomplish.
  5. Make It Readable – Why make slides if the font is unreadable by your audience? Each slide should only have a few lines of text. Keep the font as large as you can. (Best trick ever to determine if your slide font will be readable: Print your slides in hard copy. Drop them on the floor by your feet. If you can still read the text on the slides, your audience will be able to.)
  6. Just the Facts, Not the Full Text – In additional to being readable, the text on your slide should be the “main points” only. They should not be a read-along narrative. You don’t want your audience reading a book over your shoulder while you are trying to talk to them.
  7. Lose the Clip Art – Don’t use silly clip art as part of your presentation. Clip Art never made a presentation effective, or better illustrated any message.
  8. Skip the Animation – If things are “flying into frame” on your presentation you are wasting everyone’s time. And probably making a few people motion sick.
  9. Remove Anything Not Necessary – It’s easy to make a long presentation. It’s difficult to make a short, focused, and effective one. After your first draft, go back and remove anything that isn’t directly needed. (If you are worried you will need supporting material put extra slides in a hidden set of appendix slides. Chances are, you’ll never need them.)
  10. Ask, “What Do I Want People to Remember?” – Ever leave a presentation and you cannot remember any of the content? Make sure your audience will remember your main point. You get one message. And maybe 2-3 sub-bullets. That’s it. So, make sure you show your audience your message.

Simpler Yet More Effective Presentations

You might be thinking, if I strip all these things from my presentation, then I won’t have anything left.

That is the point.

To present the simplest and barest message. To be transparent and direct. And to get your message across to your audience.

Don’t leave people wondering what you were trying to express. Whether you are selling, debating, or presenting a project update, keep your presentations simple… and effective.

Question: What are your best presentations tips? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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