Since many people utilize the Powerpoint program for business, academic, and personal uses, oftentimes the question arises of not so much of how should I use the program for my presentation, but how can I use it well? This is definitely a concern for many people who have been on the receiving end of a bad Powerpoint presentation. Without the know-how of crafting a professional slide, a lot of things can go wrong quite quickly. So how can you create a well-structured presentation to captivate your audience? To start with, the key features you should be concerned about are content and design.
Let's talk about content
For the purposes of this article, the content of your work is the text that you intend to present to your audience. For some people the text plays a major role in presentation slides while for others graphics and images are more dominating. Depending on your interpretation of the purpose of Powerpoint slides
you may have a different understanding of the role of the text in your presentation. Some people feel as though images with short keywords or phrases is better and more effective than bullet points and sentences. Regardless of your stance, its important that you follow some simple guidelines for your content:
Simple content guidelines
- Prepare your words beforehand; not while creating the slides or as you go along
- Make your information easy to comprehend by keeping one idea or concept per slide
- Provide a table of contents (if necessary) to guide yourself and the audience
- Use detailed headings to tell more in one line (instead of having to do a lot of explaining)
- Provide the information in a logical order; for ex. going from the most important to the least
- Prepare a thesis or objective statement for yourself as well as your audience to make the objective and purpose of your presentation well known
In addition to the hefty role your content plays in constructing suitable slides, your design will likely play an even bigger one. Even if you're content is great, if you do a bad job presenting it, it'll be hard for your audience to extract any real benefit from it.
Consistency with text font and size
For overall professionalism and clarity in presentation, a simple font such as Verdana or Times New Roman should be used on slides as well as a consistent font size for both titles and body text (i.e. simply select a size for small, medium and large and stick to it). Your objective is to make the information easy to grasp and understand; consistency in this way will definitely make this goal easier to achieve.
Using contrasting colors
Some colors just look right together. This could be for several reasons-and contrast is one of them. Colors that contrast well look great on slides and almost anything else. Some of these colors include pairs such as black and white, blue and white, green and white, and so on. Other more colorful matches that should be safe to use are light blue and brown or blue on top of orange. And generally speaking, if your background is a dark color simply use a white or contrasting light color so that the words can be clearly seen.
Adding graphics to your presentation
Graphics should be added to your presentation with precaution. The main question to ask; Is this image necessary and will it enhance my presentation or take away from it? For instance, if your topic is crime and you insert a simple image of handcuffs in the corner of some of your slides; this should be okay. But, on the other hand, an animated image of someone getting locked up with handcuffs is something you would want to avoid.
Likewise, if you prefer the big graphic, simple text/keyword approach to compiling slides you will find that identifying the right pictures to convey the right messages to your audience will be one of your biggest task. But comparatively if you decide to include mostly text and sparingly use images you may find your compilation work much simpler.
Templates and background designs
The discussion on templates is often that they are overused and should be avoided altogether. Again depending on your own personal preference you may decide to dismiss this notion. There are plenty of simple and useful templates to be used-you must decide whether or not a particular one will be effective for your presentation or not. If for example you have a company logo that you'd like to use, or your company has their own background image, then obviously you would not be in need of a template.
Though if this is not your situation, you may want to consider adding one. Essentially, you don't want anything that will be distracting and distasteful, and you want to to ensure that the background design is suitable for words to be placed on top of it. If there is art or some sort of design on the template it should be used as a border or off to one side or in a corner. Plaids, rainbows and other multi-colored backgrounds that consume the entire slide should not be used at all.
Inserting useful graphs and diagrams
Based on your topic you may need to insert graphs or diagrams to properly execute your point. You'll find that oftentimes graphs will do a much better job at communicating the necessary information that you'd like to provide as compared to bullet points or tables. As a general rule, people often respond well to visual interpretations as oppose to text when it comes to large numbers and things of this nature. In this case, to keep the use of such things in a positive or helpful light its important to exercise some caution when creating graphs and diagrams
. Some simple things to remember;
Simple graphing guidelines
- Ensure that everything is properly labeled, for instance if its a bar graph you need to make sure you label your x and y axis.
- If you have raw data its recommended to use a graph
- Remember to provide a clear and descriptive title
- Use font sizes that are legible as well as clear and distinct colors that work well together
- Only use shading if it will be truly helpful and be mindful of background grid lines
Overall a well-structured presentation is one that is helpful to the reader, keeps their attention, and allows the presenter to achieve his purpose by effectively conveying the necessary information to the audience.