When giving presentations to an audience, making a good impression is key. Consistency in the way you look and what you say is really important.
If you are using slides it’s essential that these back up what you are saying and don’t detract from your message. Make sure the slides are professional, accurate, grammatically correct and that they reflect your brand. Why not ask 3D-VA to create a PowerPoint template for your slides, create or simply proofread your presentation.
Whilst accurate and consistent slides showcase your professionalism, the slides themselves are not the most important part. The most important part is what you say. The story that you tell. The picture that you paint.
What do you want your audience to know, what will make their ears prick up? Then plan your content first and then make the slides afterwards. Be aware of their current understanding of the topic, think about the language you use and avoid acronyms and jargon. Use quotes and data to back-up your words and real examples to demonstrate your experience. Employ descriptive words to emphasise your message and engage your audience emotionally.
Do you want to take questions as you go or at the end? Let your audience know so they don’t interrupt you mid-flow if you don’t want them to. Think about providing handouts for people to take away the key points, along with your contact details. Also, decide if the slides will be made available after the talk if so, let your audience know so they don’t have to worry about taking notes and can instead just focus on what you are saying.
Where do you want to take your audience? Show your knowledge, make it clear why they should listen to what you have to say.
What do you want your audience to do, to think, to feel?
What is the goal of your speech? Remember to include a call to action.
What is the objective? Your aim might be to provide food for thought or initiate action. Are you hoping the audience will visit your website, connect on social media, buy from you or recommend you to others?
Make your point
“If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.” Winston Churchill
Consider how you present yourself. How you look will have an impression? Albert Mehrabian identified that 55% of communication is body language, 38% is from the tone of voice, and only 7% is the actual words used. How will you dress to get the right pitch for your presentation, formal, casual, dramatic, trendy, romantic…? What is right for your brand? Dress to impress. Do you need to book in for a haircut or plan in a fake tan before you take to the stage?
Practice your presentation in advance to make sure it flows well and to check the timing is right. Get a second opinion on your speech – does it deliver your message in an inspiring way? Ask someone to proofread your slides and any handouts? Consider external factors such as the room layout and technology do you have a clicker so you can move the slides or will someone else do this for you?
No one performs at their best when they are stressed, so get there early to make sure everything is the way you want it to be. And then think calming thoughts and try to relax.
It’s OK not to be amazing at creating your slides. If the thought fills you with dread, just ask 3D-VA for help!
If you make lots of presentations, consider creating (or asking us to create) a template so that each time you make new slides they are pre-formatted with your brand font, style, logo and look.
Here are some tips for the slides themselves:
- Use title and subtitle slides so that you keep your audience with you on the journey.
- Don’t overcrowd slides include lots of white space.
- Do consider timing. Too many slides can lead to death by PowerPoint.
- Slides should support your communication. Don’t fill them with text then simply read it. Your audience will read it ahead of you and then there is little point in you being there.
- Pick a good font for people to be able to read and make sure it is large enough so that it can be seen from the back of the room. It’s not a sight test!
- Be consistent with the font, text size, colours and themes you use in the presentation.
- Position titles in the same spot so they don’t jump left or right when you move to the next slide.
- Use pictures – give them something to look at, not just text, but make it relevant. For many people, pictures are more memorable to look at than words.
- Use quality images to look professional. For example, make use of zoom, a circle, or arrows to draw attention to a certain part of the slide.
- Include relevant quotes or data if it backs up what you are saying. Again, this could be pictorially with graphs or infographics. Just make sure they are clear for your audience to read.
- Use bullets as key points to emphasise words and prompt you for the rest of the meaning.
- Stick to 3, 5, 7 bullet points. It is thought that we are more drawn to odd numbers, possibly just because it looks more interesting. The rule of 3 often comes up in writing, 3 little bears, goldilocks and the 3 bears, the 3 musketeers… Also note that 7 is generally the number of items a person can remember so more bullets than this on a slide will be too much to take in.
- Make it accessible, consider people who are colour blind. If using graphs, it can be better to choose shades of one colour than various colours which can be hard to differentiate between.
- Don’t try to be too fancy with animation. If you use animation, stick with one, don’t mix it so it swishes and swatches and swirls and changes every time. “If your words or images are not on point, making them dance in color won’t make them relevant.” Edward Tufte, Yale Emeritus professor.
- Involve the audience; ask them questions, get a show of hands or make them laugh. Why not get them to consider a goal to commit to, so this will stay with them after your talk?
Finally, consider if PowerPoint is the best option. If it adds to your speech great. If it doesn’t add anything don’t bother with slides, just go with your own charisma!
Do you want some support? If you would like help from a professional virtual assistant, I can add finesse to your slides or create a branded template for all future presentations, simply get in touch.