As a junior leader, you will have enormous occasions to handle diverse and multiple audiences of different levels. Sometimes you will also have opportunities to present your opinions to your senior leadership on some formal occasions. Marking those events successfully, you should take deliberate preparation to make your points. In doing so, you should be clear about the background knowledge of your audience. Determine “what they want to know from you within a limited scope.” Slideshows are often helpful tools to make such presentations as it is fast to produce, easy to modify, and practically suitable to insert visual content. However, slideshows may also ruin the entire presentation if not prepared and managed well. The key concept to making a good PowerPoint presentation is to note that slideshows are visual aid and not a visual distraction.
Here is a comprehensive guideline for making a good presentation.
Organizing a PowerPoint Presentation
a. Use a master slide, consistent and simple design template. Limit the slides number as minimum as possible. Presenters who constantly flip with many slides are likely to lose the audience. A good rule may be one slide per minute.
b. Select a single sans-serif font like Arial or Helvetica. Try to avoid serif fonts like Times New Roman or Palatino since these fonts are sometimes uncomfortable to read. Use contrasting colors for background and texts. Light color text on a dark background may be the best.
c. Size and type of font do matter in the case of widescreen. Use the same font for similar headlines and a different for body and other headlines. Clearly label each screen. Body fonts maybe 24 points. Use a larger font and different colors for the title. Avoid italicized fonts since these are sometimes difficult to read quickly. Long sentences will make the presentation weak. Try not to use more than 6-8 words per line.
d. Limit each slide to a maximum of 5-6 lines of text with crucial phrases only. Prepare your texts so that the audience can easily take key points. Remember, texts in the slide should be a sign for the presenter and a curiosity for the viewer. Avoid using all capital letters in your slide presentation. Keep some space on the slide that will improve readability.
e. Avoid the use of flashy transitions of slides like text fly-ins. These features may look impressive but are often distracting. Overuse of special effects, animations, and sounds may weaken your presentation and negatively impact your credibility.
f. Use quality image or video content to reinforce and complement your message. If projected on a larger screen, the image must maintain its impression and resolution.
Take Preparation and Practice
a. Learn to navigate your presentation and practice slide transitions forward and backward during the presentation since audiences may often ask to see some previous screen.
b. View and check slides on the screen that you are actually going to use for the presentation. Text, graphical images, and other contents should be large enough to read from the back seats. To test, stand six feet from your PC monitor and check if you can read the slides well.
c. Check with someone and take comments who has never seen your presentation. Ask them for their honest feedback about texts, colors, contents, and any effects that may need modification.
d. Run the slide presentation from the hard disk instead of an external disk. Running from an external disk may slow down the process. Keep additional arrangements to switch devices if possible. Make enough of good practices as actual deliberation. Practice will make you smooth and confident. Check the spelling and grammar.
e. Have an alternative plan to address technical difficulties once the presentation is in progress. You should make an excellent presentation even the technology malfunctions and no visuals to present. Acquainting yourself with the message is much necessary. Practice it well, and be prepared to engage the audience irrespective of the technology availability.
Remain Focused During Presentation
a. Speak comfortably and clearly to make your presentation. Avoid reading from the slides. Reading text ruins a presentation. The content on the slides is for the addressees, not for the presenter. A verbal presentation should focus on interactive speaking and listening and not reading out by the speaker. The application of spoken and written language varies significantly, so practice your presentation in your language and words. Spoken language is usually shorter, less formal, but more direct.
b. Do not look back and speak to your slides. Many presenters face the direction of the screen rather than their audience. Avoid apologizing for anything in your presentation. If you feel something will be hard to understand, better not project it in the formal presentation.
c. Always face your audience and do not turn your back. Position the monitor so that you may get help to speak from it. Use a wireless mouse or a slide changer so that you can remain flexible and move around as you talk. If you use any sound effects, wait until the sound has ended, then you can resume speaking.
I wish you the best of luck.