You have a presentation coming up, great! No need to start sweating so profusely. Look, we get it. Some people (like me!) love giving presentations, and some people don’t. Some people like the artistry (really!) that is creating a visually pleasing presentation, and some people don’t. But whether you like it or not you are being judged on every aspect of your presentation… so yeah, maybe sweat a little? Here are some tricks and tips to help!
Designing a Better Presentation
- Format your presentation for 2021: Make SURE you are formatting for a smart TV width! Standard aspect for presentations is 4:3. Smart TVs and wider computer monitors are 16:9 though! It’s easy to adjust that when designing your presentation… harder after it’s created, but this is a vital step. Don’t short change your professionalism by missing things like this!
- Don’t have a Table of Content slide at the beginning. If you start your presentation with a table of content slide and tell me what we’re going to be learning about in the presentation I hate you. Start with the issue to be solved or a question to be answered and then get after it, you!
- Don’t use crazy animations, shadow effects, or progressions. Star fade, anyone? NO! No. Just… no. There is NEVER a place for it.
- Watch that color scheme and uniformity: You DO have a color scheme, right? I’d recommend using colors out of your company’s brand manual (you do have a brand manual, right?) or if not to sticking to a particular theme in PPT. All writing on your slides should be in only 1-2 fonts, fairly uniform sizes, and definitely within a tight color scheme.
- Don’t put light colored text over light colored backgrounds. Don’t put dark colored text over dark colored background. I don’t have anything zippy to add to that, it stands on its own.
- PPT Themes- Don’t use blank, white slides, do use a theme. Don’t use a crazy or unprofessional looking theme… it’s a knife edge to walk, I know. You can also download blank presentation templates that have some cool looks to the slides too, and these are often free. Some with super cool graphs and visuals. Not that I ever do that, or anything.
- Use different styles of slides: Don’t always use the same slide type, switch it up. Picture on the left, picture as background, subheading slides, picture on the right, etc.
- Watch that font size: Readability is important- stay above 20 though 26+ is better. Can’t fit all your info on one slide at that size? Sounds like you have two slides, bub.
- Images- As a rule of thumb you should not have a slide without an image in all but the very rarest of instances. Set an image as the background or use a slide format that has at least half of the slide as an image. But Lauren, you say, that’s a lot of images! Yeah. know. You have to have new and constantly changing images to keep the visual interest of your attendees. Shake those keys in front of those toddlers! Keep the visual aspect of your presentation fascinating! If they’re visually interested they’re mentally invested!
- End on a slide with your contact information. Do you know how many times people have taken pictures of the last slide with my contact info on it when I give a presentation? Sure you hand out cards, and send follow up emails, but this is just one more way to ensure you’re giving every opportunity for your attendees to find you.
Giving a Better Presentation
- Practice and Review! If you’re new to presenting record a practice run of yourself giving the entire presentation and then watch it. Is it brutal? Uh-huh. Is it SUPER helpful? Uh-huh. Feedback from others is helpful. Give the presentation in a safe space before the big day so you can get feedback from your spouse or coworkers.
- Don’t show us your notes! When presenting give it in a feature called Presenter View, which can be found in the "Slide Show" tab. If you don’t have that option there should still be a way to split your display to show notes on your screen and just the slide on the main screen. If you can’t do that- then you’d BETTER be able to give that presentation without notes! NEVER let the audience see your notes at the bottom of the screen.
- Don’t just read the slides! Presentations are not the time to read slides to your attendees… they know how to read. This is an opportunity to more conversationally rephrase what is on the slide.. or better yet not have much to read on the slides themselves, only visuals or a shorthand of what you are saying. This ensures the focus is on you!
- Find the right tempo. Too fast shows nerves, too slow is going to bore the audience and make them question your IQ. Be perfect, got it?
- Talk Loudly: You’re playing to the cheap seats, so you need to project louder than you think. It should sound obviously louder in your own head than you think you need or are used to. And you’d better be able to pull that off because NOTHING goes wrong in presentations more than audio and microphone problems!
- Be yourself. Does anyone like the empty shirt type salesmen? Or do they respond to you, an individual and real person, who is there to help them? Exactly. Be a real person, with real feeling and a normal delivery of your information (no droning reading!) and you will give the best presentation they’ve had in a long time. And besides, life is too short to waste any precious second trying to be anyone other than your true self. So be that person and you and the audience will be happier for it.
- Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know. If you don’t know the answer to a question don’t feel a need to flail around! Just give a simple: “That is a great question, and I want to make sure I give you the right answer. I’ll email you later today or tomorrow with that.” Just get their info to follow up with and move on.
- Don’t stay on a slide too long- expect to move through your slides at about 1 per minute. Have more information on that slide than you can convey in one minute? Sounds like you now have 2 slides, bub.
- End with a call to action… but NOT one that can be answered with a yes/no response. Don’t say “Do you have any questions?” Do say “What questions do you have?” Don’t ask “Does anyone have a project this product would be useful on?” Say “Who has a project this might be useful on?” instead. Tiny tweaks make a real difference here.
A final note: A bad presentation wastes everyone’s time- most especially your own! This is an opportunity to shine and sell more or close more deals- don’t waste it. Good luck and go nail that presentation!
Author: Lauren Alaniz