Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Presentation Pointers

There's nothing quite like a PowerPoint presentation to make things exciting. As a public information officer, either you may have to deliver one, or you may have to generate one for another spokesperson in your organization. And, that's cool. Seriously.

I mean, think of the good old fashioned technology PowerPoint replaced. Hauling around slide projectors or reams of overhead transparencies. This program, created in 1990, allows you to port your presentation - videos and all - to and from wherever you need to go. No fuss, no muss. Bring your own laptop, get your hands on an inexpensive projector and you are in business.

This can be a good thing, or it can also be so absolutely horrid, because I have seen people use and abuse PowerPoint, Prezi, Apple Keynote, Google Slides and other various programs. To the point where I - as a member of an audience - would be willing to throw a chair through a window to make good my escape.

While this isn't a post on how to put together a PowerPoint presentation, it can help steer you in the right direction and avoid a few of the most obvious pitfalls.

First, let's talk about the things you want to do. Always remember the KISS principle - keep it simple, sucka. Be sure to make your slides as easy to read as possible, keep them to a few points and use graphics that help tell your story. Oh, and be sure to use spellcheck. There's nothing quite as jarring as misspelling a word on your slides ...

What can go wrong with your slide design? Plenty. Remember, the slides on your presentation are guides to help keep you on track and your audience working with you.

You do NOT want to post a slide that looks like this. Trust me, it happens. I have seen department directors who were paid a considerable salary prepare slides that look like this. They INSIST that this is how people learn and want to see their presentation done. Let's face it, if you end up turning your back on your audience and read from the screen word-for-word, why are they even there? Just give them a handout and be done with it.

Another don't is to jam your slides full of exciting visual effects, Just because you CAN put them in there, should you?  As you can see from the moving graphic above, all of that excitement can wear your eyes out in a hurry, and it can also distract from your message.

Oh, and when speaking about distracting from messages, jamming a ton of photos onto each slide can detract from your message as well. Sure, a picture is worth a thousand words, but picture-paloozas with images stacked on top of each other are going to be a distraction, even if they are all of cute babies and baby animals. Find one good image that tells your story and go with that.

Having the ability to embed video clips into your presentation can really bring your slide to life. Just remember, however, that each of these programs handles these files in a specific way. Just because the video plays with a single click on your desktop computer doesn't mean it will spring to life if you move it to a new computer for the presentation. Be sure to bring all of your files with you just to be sure you have everything handy. This way, you won't be scrambling, clicking the dreaded black box in your slideshow with no result.

Finally, checking your presentation one last time before you leave for your talk is critical. Sometimes the information changes on the slides or updates need to be made, and you may not realize that this critical data has gone missing until you are in the middle of your talk. Believe me, I have done it, and having to correct your information in front of a large group can be one of the most embarrassing things you may ever have to do.

Will these tips make you a PowerPoint guru? No, but they just might help you build better presentations that stand out in your audience's mind for all the right reasons.

Tom Iovino, Public Relations Strategist
Hillsborough County, Florida

1 comment:

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