Guidelines of using PowerPoint to make effective presentations

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Microsoft PowerPoint is a great tool for creating presentations.  It is versatile.  You can embed text, images, videos, audios, charts, tables, and diagrams in the slides.  There are also many selections of transitions and animations to make your presentation more interesting to the audience and facilitate the conveyance of critical messages.  There are many templates and themes that you can choose, or you can design your own with ease.   Microsoft PowerPoint is also easy to use and most people can learn the basic commands and options within a few hours.

Throughout the years, I have seen many good and bad presentations.  I hereby summarize a few guidelines that may help make your presentations a bit better than the others.

 

Too much information in a slide

 

Some people like cramping in as much information as possible in one slide.  They use tiny words and pictures that are difficult to see even by a person with excellent eye sights sitting at the front row.  When that happens, the audience will get tired easily and stop looking at your slides and start having their mind wandering.  Even some of the audience may try to follow you, but your audience may likely get lost on the inundation of information.  Please limit your information to four lines of text, excluding the title.  Try to break your presentation in multiple slides if you have more than 4 points.

In one of best presentations that I have ever seen, the creator just put the titles in the slides without details.  He presented the details by himself.  The title of each slide has already pointed out the main point of the slide so the audience can follow him with ease.  The presenter also used certain emphasis throughout his verbal presentation to effectively convey the messages.  He sent out the presentation printouts after the presentation.  If the audience needs to refer to the details, he or she can read the printouts later.

 

 

A picture worth a thousand words

 

This statement does not need to be explained.  However, I still see many people use tons of words that can be more effectively communicated by a single picture or a chart.

 

 

Excessive use of Animations

 

Animations can make your presentations livelier and more interesting, thus grabbing more attentions from your audience and enhancing the impact of the messages that you intend to deliver.  The use of animations should be limited and relevant to the messages in your slides.  Overusing animations will overwhelm your audience.  When that happens, your audience may either (1) overlook the important messages, (2) not able to distinguish which messages are important, or (3) choose to turn off their attentions and stop receiving the messages you want to convey.   Therefore, please remember to stick to the principal of “less is more” when you use animations in your PowerPoint presentations.

 

 

Excessive use of Transitions

 

This has the same effect as the excessive use of Animations.  Some transition may get a wow effect at the first sight, such as vortex, glitter, shred, and ripple.  But when the audience sees them many times, the wow effect disappears and the impatience will start setting in because those special transitions take a long time to run.  If you need to use them, please shorten the “Duration” to make them run faster.

Secondly, some people like to use a mix of transitions with no real purposes.  The creators just randomly select some transitions to make their presentations look a bit interesting.  However, some transitions can be used for a roll of several slides, especially when those slides are related to a single theme or topic.

 

 

Don’t overlook the impact of sounds, voices, and music

 

Adding sounds, voices, and music can have a powerful impact on your PowerPoint presentations.  They can deliver messages, convey moods, and make your presentations livelier, more interesting, and more appealing. Sound and music affects human emotions, such as joy, sadness, fear, and fondness.  Researches have confirmed that such impact on emotions is cross-culture and cross-backgrounds.

 

 

Consider exporting your PowerPoint presentations into videos for easier playback and broadcasting.

 

You can use a combination of video clips, animations, and transitions to create a video.  The video can be used for presentation, training, education, campaigning, and advertising purposes.  There are several advantages of creating videos with PowerPoint:

  • The video can be recorded as separate video clips instead of one long video.  It is easier to record such video clips and put less pressure on the hosts.  The video editing is usually easier for video clips than one long video.
  • The video clips are supplemented with text, graphics, and charts so it is potentially more easily to convey ideas and main points to your targeted audience.
  • A combination of themes, text, pictures, charts, and videos is more likely to keep your audience in interest and attention to the message you want to convey.
  • Most videos are recorded in either Window Media Video (WMV) or MP4 format.  Most computers, TV, and DVD or Blu-Ray players are readily to play them.  Software to play such video formats such as Window Media or Apple QuickTime Player is available to be downloaded for free.  The audience does not have to worry about having the latest versions of PowerPoint to view your presentations.
  • The output video cannot be altered easily by the users, thus allowing the creator to maintain the data integrity.  On the contrary, PowerPoint documents might be changed accidentally by the users.
  • The PowerPoint video can be easily changed to adapt to conveying different messages or to be updated to reflect newest available information.  The PowerPoint videos are more readily to reflect such changes than conventional videos.

 

Consider investing into hi-tech equipment

 

A good projector with bright light is a must for presentations.  You may also want to consider buying a remote control mouse and a laser pen.  One of the best presentations I attended had the presenter walked around the stage and sometimes came down to the audience and interacted with the audience.  He controlled the slides through his long-ranged remote control mouse which was tiny and shaped like a pen.  His presentation was very successful and the presenter was in total control.  The presenter moved the audience to any direction he wanted it to be.  I regard part of his success is attributed to his hi-tech equipment.  Without such equipment, the presentation would not have moved so smoothly and effectively.

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