Tips for Better PowerPoint Presentations

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It may be simple to begin using PowerPoint… but it’s not so easy to make professional looking presentations. These tips were sent in by a community member, and will help you in your endeavor to create a great presentation.

  • Be sure to make your presentation appropriate for the audience in which you are going to present it to! That means, don’t put funny sounds or transitions on presentations that are going to be made to a group of executives, for purposes of professionalism. Of course, if you are going to make a presentation to a slightly less critical crowd, (like a classroom, or a presentation for some co-workers of yours) then such add-ons are more appropriate. Failing to tailor your presentation to the audience can cost you big time, as depending on who you are presenting it to, different reactions may take place. Sometimes, such reactions can put you and/or your reputation into jeopardy.
  • Be sure to make your presentations easy to read! Presentations are virtually useless if the audience cannot read what it says. Be sure to not make the text too big or too small. I recommend between 48pt. and 36pt. fonts for titles, and between 24pt. and 18pt. for text. If the text is too big, it may not all fit on one slide, and if the text is too small, then people will not be able to read it. Also, use clear fonts. I like fonts such as Arial, Helvetica, Tahoma, Gill Sans MT, Calibri, Segoe UI, Lucida Grande, and Lucida Sans for presentation, as they are modern, smooth, and of course, easy to read. Of course, if you cannot avoid a less than perfect reading situation, I recommend passing out an outline of your presentation to the audience. An outline is a copy of all of the text included in your presentation, that can be passed out to the audience in order for them to be able to read the text, and so they don’t have to take notes, which relieves the stress level.
  • Make your presentations professional-looking! No matter your audience, nothing looks better than a good looking presentation. That means no more Windows 95 white! We are in the 21st century, and so your presentations can look way better now. A great way to have a professional looking presentation is to add graphics! That means insert some picture files and add cool effects to them, add 3D charts and graphs, use WordArt and 3D Art (SmartArt in Office 2007 and Office 2008 for Mac), etc. And if you have trouble with this, use themes! Most presentation maker software (PowerPoint, Keynote, etc.) have built-in themes that make everything look great with just one click. It is a quick and easy way to take a basic looking presentation look better. And ditch Times New Roman, as it is (in my opinion) the worst font on Earth. It is used too many times, and it doesn’t look as good as some of the other fonts out there. See my list in tip #2 for the fonts I like. Making your presentation look good can make you look good, as it shows you put in some effort.
  • Don’t just have text! I am reiterating this for a reason. Nothing is more boring than a text only presentation. This isn’t 1993! There is so much more you can do now with your presentation. Add objects (pictures, video clips, sounds, graphics) that have something to do with your presentation. This gets the concept across a lot easier, and it makes your presentation interesting. Oh, and be sure to use the cool editing effects that today’s presentation software titles have. Other things like transitions (subtle, of course), make a presentation stand out. Just be sure to make them appropriate for conditions (refer to #1).
  • Format the text information correctly! USE BULLET POINTS! (sorry for yelling) No one wants to read a large paragraph of text in a presentation. It becomes very difficult to extract the good information when the text is formatted that way. So bullet point the important, necessary information that will be of use to the audience. Your presentation will be of more use that way.
  • Add your own information and experience to the presentation! Don’t just read what the presentation says. Unleash your own experience and knowledge upon the audience. Even if you made the presentation, things seem to be a lot easier when the experience is explained by the person afterward. Add more information that you couldn’t include in the presentation for whatever reason. And finally, be sure to explain the contents of the presentation thoroughly and with eye contact to the audience. This makes the message you want to convey a lot clearer. After all, you need to please the audience, and a lack of understanding from the audience towards you and your presentation is a bad sign.

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