Give Effective PowerPoint Presentations With Clear Graphics and Legible Text

Symptom:  You feel like you are good at your job specialty.  You want to do more for the company. But outside of a few people with whom you work, nobody else seems to understand what you do, or notice the quality of work you produce.  And this limits your career options both within and outside your group.

Cure:  Start giving effective presentations whenever you have the chance to tell anybody about your results.

Why it Works:  The purpose of a presentation is NOT to impress the audience with how much you know.

Nobody likes to be told they aren't smart.
The purpose of a presentation is to convey your message to the entire audience in the most effective and efficient manner possible, so as to influence their behavior or attitudes about what you have to say.

Depending on the venue, your audience may feature people from different disciplines, backgrounds, and interest levels in your message.  You are trying to influence their thoughts, opinions, and behavior to your point of view, right?  Otherwise everybody in the room is wasting their time at this meeting!  They should leave and get back to work if there is nothing to discuss!

Now, how to make effective presentations?  Assuming you are a good speaker, there are three main things to focus on:

The Power of Pictures
You can only influence the audience if they can connect with your message.  And this is best done with pictures.

I am not talking about meaningless clip art and distracting decoration, animation, and fluff on your PowerPoint template.  I'm talking about showing graphs instead of data tables, flow diagrams instead of a list of bullet points, and so on.

Think Win-Win and you will be more successful.
The reason pictures work is that our brains are capable of taking in the message from a good picture or graph much, much faster than we can from reading text.  And pictures cut across disciplines, cultures, languages, and other things that separate your audience members from each other.  Pictures hold people's attention the way words cannot.

So whatever you have to say, say it with a picture or graphic or something other than just text.  You'll find that you have a much more engaged audience!

Make it Big
Everything on your slides must be legible from the back of the room, to a person with 20/40 eyesight.  You want bold type, at least 24pt (this is easy to set up on the Power Point template, so that every slide you make has a uniform look and feel).  Because guess what -- if your boss is 50-ish or older, chances are they don't see as well as they used to.  Don't aggravate them by putting up things they can't read!  It will create a negative association that you don't need.

There is another important reason to make your text big.  It's so that you hone your message and make it concise.  If you have just a few words to play with on each slide, it forces you to hit only the high points, stick only to the essential things, and keep your presentation focused.  And that will make it much more effective.

Preview it yourself
Nobody wants to hear you say "oh, well, this looked different on my screen" when you are presenting!  Preview your presentation in the room you will be using for the presentation.  Stand in the back of the room, with the lights on, and see if you can read and understand everything.  Many projectors wash out or alter your carefully-chosen colors, so make adjustments as needed.  The subtlety of dark green versus light green may have been stunning on your computer screen, but a green mess when projected onto a screen in a conference room.

Do you promise to make an effective presentation the next time you speak?  Then let your friends know too -- Share, Like, Tweet, or Email below!

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