10 Sure Shot Steps to an Amazing Presentation

Death by PowerPoint”, that’s the word going around in the industry today. PowerPoint presentations, which used to be industry standard not too long ago has turned into the ire of executives around the world.
As Peter Norvig, Director of Research at Google says, PowerPoint doesn’t kill meetings. People kill meetings. But using PowerPoint is like having a loaded AK-47 on the table: You can do very bad things with it.”
With boring and rote presentations doing the round across industries, its finally time to flush some fresh energy into PowerPoint. Here are 10 sure shot ways to make your slides and your presentations AMAZING.

     1.    Start on the right note
We for sure know that people are judgmental across the waistline of the globe. Clichéd as it may sound, the first impression is still the last, so why not make it amazing.
The opening slide should be Killer, not in the sense of murdering your audience but it should grab them by the collar and get them hooked for what is to come.
Keep your slide catchy, by having some amazing graphics and/or BOLD fonts. This is the only slide where you can go crazy with the fonts you use (P.S. Please don’t overdo it. Please!). If your opening slide looks like a piece of art, then it’s probably the best start.

     2.    “Your slides should be a billboard not a document!”
~ Lee Jackson
Well, shouldn’t we have known that all along? If we had to shove truckloads of text into the faces of our audience, couldn’t we have just sent them a document.
A slide should typically not have more than 3 lines. Keep the lines simple and precise. You are standing there to explain the slide, so why put it up. There is nothing more boring than standing in front of an audience and reading your slides out. So, make sure to give text a rest.

     3.    Images that make you drool
Not literally but yes, they should scream AMAZING. People will remember only 10% of what you are going to say, but 65% of what they see and hear. Images bring life to your slides and well-chosen images explain your context better than words.

Lots of tutorials give various resources to find images, I would have used them if I did not know how to use Google. Believe me, having made countless presentations on this model, I have never had to look beyond Google Images, for pictures. Use the Search Tools effectively and you will never have to visit any other website for images again.

Another important tip to increase the appeal of your slides is the use of vectors. Just suffix your search with PNG and voila! Background less images to embed straight into your slides (P.S. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, start using the background removal tool. You’ll be a pro at removing backgrounds in no time).

     4.    Find the perfect color scheme
Though I am suggesting you to get creative with your slides, it does not mean you create a pack of M&M’s to serve your audience. Homogeneity goes a long way in giving fluidity to your presentations.
Pick a color scheme and stick by it right through your presentation. There are resources like colourlovers.com but guys seriously, how difficult is it to choose a palette of colors that is pleasing to the eye. You’ve seen brilliant color schemes in magazines throughout your life. Take refence and get creative guys. Bring that POP in your slides.

     5.    Get Your Fonts Right
Most people think throwing up multiple fonts is a creative way of changing the look and feel of the slides. Let’s pause and think, is it really?
Pardon me for harping on homogeneity again but symmetry in fonts makes your presentation look much more professional rather than that by a fourth grader. This doesn’t mean you have the same font throughout your presentation but more than 3 fonts are an absolute no.
Make sure your presentation is readable by the farthest audience. If they can’t read it, they won’t look at it. Golden Rule: Any presentation to an audience should have no text with a font size below 24.
Where you can actually play with, is the font size. Varying sizes bring focus and appeal to your text. Also, try to link the font with your topic. Say you are presenting about Lufthansa Airlines, search Lufthansa Airlines font and you are good to go. (P.S. You may use this strategy to choose your color schemes as well).

     6.    Make sure its CRAP
Sure, most presentations are crap, but here I’m referring to something a little more technical. CRAP stands for Contrast, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity. Get this right and your slides are automatically a notch above the others.
a)      Contrast: Good contrast can make your slides look crisp and organized. Make sure your text is clear and legible and you are well on your way to wowing your audience.
b)     Repetition: Repetition of design elements gives a cohesive look to your presentations. As already stated a small investment homogeneity reaps big rewards.
c)      Alignment: Line things up, add some padding and make sure elements are symmetrical. Microsoft hasn’t provided those gridlines for nothing. Make use of them.
d)     Proximity: Group similar or related elements together and your slides immediately start looking so much more cohesive.
Effective use of CRAP will ensure you don’t throw up those crappy PPT’s again.

     7.    Manage the Data
Nancy Duarte said, “Data slides really aren’t about the data, they are about the meaning of the Data.” There is no point of chucking a bunch of numbers at your audience. They can never comprehend values till they aren’t explained. So, let’s just put it on a platter for them. Make your graphs look more attractive and they suddenly start making more sense.
Another trick of the trade, if you can relate your data to something real life, your audience is going to love you.

     8.    Multimedia to the rescue
It’s difficult to believe that just making things look pretty won’t put your audience to sleep. Well sure it is, because it still will. How do you wake them up you ask? A little jingle might help, right? Use videos and animations to bring your presentations to life. I am not calling for turning your presentations into a virtual circus (Tumbling and rotating text are the most annoying things ever) but some effects to shake things up a bit never hurt.
Embed videos directly into slides, so that you don’t have to face that awkward silence while on stage. Try and time these slides to automate them. This just makes them a lot more fluid and consistent.

     9.    Engage Your Audience
Your audience follows the 10-minute rule, the clock strikes 10 and the attention runs down. It thus becomes imperative that you entice your audience every now and then.
It’s no good presenting, when no one is listening. Always have a WOW moment placed after every 5-7 minutes of presentation. It may be a clipping, a transition, a joke or even a rhetoric. Make sure you have your audience glued to you while you speak. (P.S. This is especially necessary for long presentations and make sure that you prepare your audience for your wow moment. It’s no good to say joke to a bunch of snoring buggers).
Piece of Advice: Your presentation should be more like a story rather than a tutorial. Make sure that there is continuity in the slides so that your audience is hooked.

10.  Practice makes you perfect
You might do everything correct while making your presentation but if you can’t engage then it’s an absolute waste. Make sure, you are well prepared with what you want to speak on stage. With the above steps, you wouldn’t have much to read of the slides, so rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
Always remember your audience does not know what you have planned, so don’t worry if you cannot remember your lines, look at the slide and recall the context. No one would hang you if you can’t recall the script. (P.S. I dire situations, a little bit of bluffing might get you out of trouble, but make sure you don’t bluff facts. There are people who are more intelligent than you in the audience). 

Beyond the 10:
Your presentation is your canvas. It’s your own creative outlet, so break the rules. No need to be shackled by what you’ve been taught at school. Push ahead, create your own designs, use your own templates and go wild. (Knowledge of photoshop helps greatly, but guys, there are plenty of online tools that can help you)
There’s never a wrong way to make a presentation. There may be a bad way though, so go ahead, experiment, learn and get better!

These are some sure shot steps to get the presentation right every time. Keep your audience happy and they keep you happy. Find a sample presentation to this tutorial in the link: Here

Sahildeep Singh Kohli
IIM Raipur

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