Andrew is going through his work schedule in his mind, trying to find any motivation to get out of bed today and into the cold morning air.
“Oh great, not another slide show presentation.”
As he gets dressed and goes down for breakfast, Andrew can already hear his boisterous twin boys getting ready for high school.
“How’s your day looking?” his wife asks sweetly, setting down a plate in front of him as he sits down at the table.
“Exciting. Big conference coming up so I’ll be looking at a slide-show all day.”
From across the table, one of Andrew’s sons pipes in cheerily,
“Again? Wow dad that must be at least 3 this week, are they all very boring?”
“Well, some of them, maybe most of them”
“What makes them not boring?”
Andrew looks at his son’s curious eyes, then decides to give everyone a quick life lesson from an expert. “Family, gather ‘round, I have to give you some quick tips on presentations before you start working”
“Wait dad the bus is almos-“.
1) Always outline your presentation before you get started.
Always outline your presentation. When you give it structure and direction people can sense it in your slides –but plan selectively– if you put everything in your slides people can’t remember anything. Once you have your outline, you can start to form the layout scheme, decide whether it’s a technical or persuasive presentation and which topics to go over, and create the transitions between topics. Develop the slides after you have a presentation in mind, as slides are supposed to enhance your arguments not the other way around.
2) Don’t overload your slides. Keep it simple.
You know how all of your assignments have word limits nowadays? Well it’s the same with slides on a slideshow; the general limit is 15 words or less. When a slide gets overloaded with words, the audience will likely get distracted from your main topics. If you want them to listen, do not list all of your arguments on a bullet point slide like a professor who will just get asked for a download link later while students skip class.
3) Design your slides with your audience in mind.
For a virtual slideshow, I personally tune out immediately at the first hint of a template –they look too generic, outdated and wordy. On a similar note, do not use animations and transitions, because it either is a desperate cry for attention or a distraction off of your main points. Conversely, details like color and fonts can significantly enhance your arguments as color can invoke emotions and fonts can set a mood. using appropriate colors and fonts can be a key element in retaining and funneling your listener’s attention.
4) Tell a story with the right visual cues when you can.
A picture is worth a thousand words and every slide should include its own graphics that tell a story or set the tone for your audience. Make the graphics subtle and organic; there shouldn’t be anything pointing them out or emphasizing them. Know that the quality of the image is a representation of you and your presentation, so always use high-quality photographs. If you decide to use video, make sure to double check your presentation to make sure that it plays when you want it to.
5) If you’re going to use graphs in your slideshow presentation, make them simple.
Charts and graphs are tricky. On one hand, they can help the audience visualize data and help augment the argument, however, they can also disrupt the slide show if the chart is too complicated or unappealing. Take an extra minute to retouch your charts to match the style of your presentation, and make sure they are simple (and pretty) enough to be part of a seamless presentation.
“…and also make sure- “
“Honey”, Andrew’s wife interjects calmly, “the kids left already”.
“Well, they’ll be back. They need me.”
After a short commute, Andrew settles in his office getting ready for a big meeting. He walks into the semi-full meeting room 15 minutes early and stands in the back as the CEO spots and walks to him with a smile.
“Hey Andy, how’s the family?”
“Could be better, my kids still don’t listen to me.”
“So, same old same old?”
The two share a laugh while opening their meeting agendas. The CEO taps him on the elbow, “So apparently this new kid is running our Quarterly today”.
Andrew flips to the front of the page.