Use of Presentation Slides
Download this content HERE
- Use of presentation slides
There are two basic rules for a successful slide presentation. It must be visually engaging, and it must be clear. But the key is to avoid the mistake of sacrificing one for the other.
- Have compelling slides
There is a lot of information online on how to enhance your slide presentation. Sometimes, however, examples of what not to do can show you how to avoid mistakes. You should use more slides in a livestreamed presentation which seems counter intuitive when everyone has heard the saying, ‘death by PowerPoint’! This is understandable to anyone who has sat through presentations with wordy, dull and repetitive-looking slides. So, the key to success is in your slide design and how often you move through them.
- Use slides as a visual cue
With a livestreamed presentation, slides are important. While a set presentation template is good, avoid every slide looking the same. But equally, stick to a simple and elegant theme. Your participants need a visual cue that slides are changing so they know to pay attention to the new information. This will help keep your participants engaged.
- Increase the number of slides…yes, really!
For presenters accustomed to in-person presentations, the use of more slides can be a surprise when moving to a livestreamed presentation. In an in-person presentation, your participants rely on your body language and activity to stay engaged, which lets you spend several minutes per slide. With a livestreamed presentation it’s better to have more slides with less information on each. You’ve seen it a million times as a Zoom participant – the presenter shows slide after slide of dot-pointed text and basically reads them with a few additions. To avoid this, structure your slides to put less text on each, enhance with relevant imagery, and verbally elaborate on the slides’ text.
- Switch slides often
When you switch from slide to slide, interest is created because our brains become alert when we see a change of view. Make your slides striking by being colourful and big! Make them powerful by using images with an emotional impact. Use photos with people’s faces to be persuasive. Use simple icons for clear messaging.
Ideally, show a new slide every 30-60 seconds, which averages out to about 30-40 slides for a 60-minute livestreamed presentation that is split into a mix of 45/15 minutes learning/questions. This will feel like more slides than you think you should use, but with practice, this faster pace becomes natural and comfortable.
- Use images to support your text, rather than distract from it
Colour brightens your slides as long as they remain readable on all displays (high contrast helps a lot). Use less text per slide and think of your text as an image.
Limit yourself to only one concept or point per slide. Be aware of your font sizing and clarity and keep a 10%-20% margin around your text. Choose your images smartly!
- Visualise your content for engagement
Visualise your content to create a more lasting impression. Research tells us that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, so use rich media like images, GIFs and videos to improve engagement. If you are looking for great images for your presentation check out resources like Pixabay, Unsplash, Pexels and Creative Commons for high-quality, royalty-free images.
- Keep slides simple – lots of space and clear imagery
Too many images can be distracting especially if they overlap. When considering several images, ask yourself if one or two can represent many. This will draw your participants’ attention to the most important information, without distracting them. Keep plenty of unused space on your slides to improve the readability of your content.
- Use consistent colours and themes
It can be easy to take the saying ‘less is more’ too far. Overloading with different colour palettes in one presentation can look unprofessional and eye-straining but, equally, an all-black and white presentation is also not engaging. PowerPoint’s blank templates are a good place to start as you can edit them to your taste and according to your own requirements. But they are not meant to be left like that for a serious presentation. Blank presentations are boring and that can be as distracting as too many colours. Background colours are important depending on the venue lighting, so always enquire, as dark text on a white background is not as standout in a light room as light text on a dark background.
- Avoid text-heavy slides
Chances are that, as soon as people see a text-heavy slide, they’re going to start reading it from start to finish. And in doing so, they’ll pay less (or no) attention to you. If you’re also just repeating what’s written on the slide you’ll be competing with your own presentation for your participants’ attention. Text-heavy slides may seem meaningful and informative, but what they actually do is draw attention away from your verbal content. Approximately 6-7 lines of text per slide is ideal. Replace wall-of-text slides with a combination of images and single key terms or brief phrases that help you to drive your content home without distracting from your presentation.
- Use fonts that can be seen from a distance
Avoid fonts that have too little space between the letters, that are over-stylised, italicised or that imitate handwriting. Stick to a maximum of 1-2 fonts types – too many can make your presentation look dated. With font size, generally never go below 20 pts. Avoid serif fonts like Times New Roman. Fonts like Calibri, Arial, Helvetica, Garamond and Tahoma are easiest to read.
- Sobriety differs from simplistic
Even if you feel you’re taking the safe route when designing a presentation, it can backfire. Presenting in all-black and white can make you look uninspired about your topic. It can affect the way your participants perceive your presentation. Keep it simple, but elegant!
- Think caveman-like speech
Avoid dumping complete paragraphs into your presentation, and it’s ok to use incomplete sentences. Focus on your keywords, and the most important concepts or ideas that you want your participants to take away with them. Participants have a limited capacity for retention so sticking to key points will make your presentation easier to digest. To do this successfully it is good practice to use more slides, if you move through them more quickly.
- Animation is for emphasis only
There is no correct amount of animation usage. By animation we are referring to PowerPoint’s transition features. Most presentations work well with none. The key to working with animations without overusing them is to give them an emphasis purpose. As with here, if this whole paragraph is in bold letters, it would be difficult to quickly pick out which is the most important idea behind it. But since it is just one word, “emphasis” becomes the idea that stands out. Think of the PowerPoint animation feature as the highlighter of your key points.
- Take your participants on a journey
Lastly, use your slides to let your participants know where you’re at as you journey through your presentation. Participants are more likely to remain engaged if they can see a logical progression, and how each point fits with your introductory slide. Show a clear penultimate slide, and end with your last slide being an invitation to your Q&A segment, or that tells your participants where they can learn more about the topic, such as a list of resources or your contact details.