Five tips for awesome presentation slides

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Crush your next presentation…

  1. Stick to one message per slide
    Look at your slides one by one. What is the key message of each? Does the slide contain additional information that distracts from your key message? If you’ve got more than one thing going on, then time for another slide. 
    I’ve heard it said that a good presentation should contain no more than X slides. Which is nice in theory, but then people just cram lots and lots of information into each slide, resulting in information overload and confusion for the audience. 
  2. Use simple and legible graphics
    Please, please, please don’t download all your excel graphs and tables into your presentation. NOBODY can read them. And no, telling us that “it’s a bit difficult to see, but basically what it says is….” is of no help to anybody.
    And while we are on the subject, please try to keep your colour palette simple and tasteful, don’t go overboard on the animated gifs and other distracting zoomy things. Don’t want the audience members going home with a migraine. 
  3. Keep text to a minimum
    Don’t cut and paste whole paragraphs into your presentation. Presentations are not books or essays, too much text and you are forcing your audience to split their attention between what you are saying and what is on the screen. 
    Like every teacher knows: “Control the material”. If as a teacher you give the handouts to the students before you’ve finished the instructions, they start reading and stop listening to you. That can also happen with wordy slides. Remember, the words on the screen are there to reinforce your message, not the other way around.  
  4. Speak, don’t read.
    Related to point 4, please do not read what is on the screen out loud. It sounds boring, monotonous, and redundant, and for non-native speakers can lead to intonation and pronunciation problems. And the audience can read it faster than you can say it.
  5. Use spell check
    If it has that little wriggly red line underneath, check it! I don’t really need to explain why, do I?

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