Six Do's and Don'ts for presentation

  nadeem ansari
  karma level 4


Six Major Mistakes When Doing Powerpoint Presentations

1. Text Too Small

Quite often, the text used on slides is much too small to read once projected on a screen. A good test to use is go to the back of the room where the furthest audience member would be sitting before you do your presentation.  Put on the slide with the smallest sized text. If you can’t make out the text easily, then neither will any audience member sitting in the back of the room. You will have to make your text size larger (I would suggest at least 35-40 font size minimum). Also, it is a good idea to use sans-serif fonts like Arial (rather than serif fonts like Times Roman) on slides since they are easier on the eyes on a screen.

2. Too Much Text

Another major mistake that many people make is trying to fit in too much text on any single slide. It is a nightmare for audiences when they see a slide jammed full of text. If audience members start reading all the text on such a slide, they will not be able to listen to you as the speaker at the same time. A good rule of thumb to use is have no more than four to five bullet points per slide (I often use just three points) and no more than five words per point. If you have more bullet points, divide them up on separate slides.

3. Reading Off Each Word

A sure sign of an ineffective presenter is when he or she looks at the screen and reads off every last word up on the slides. From a presentation skills point of view, this is bad because the presenter loses eye contact with the audience. You also don’t want the audience to have to look at your backside all the time. Again, limit the number of words on each bullet point so that you can speak more naturally by expanding on what is actually on each slide.

4. Abusing The Bells And Whistles

Another indicator of an inexperienced Powerpoint user is when too many of the fancy functions from the program are used in the presentation. This would include the use of too many different slide transitions, animations, sound effects, etc. You are not there to impress the audience with your vast knowledge of the different bells and whistles that Powerpoint has. These can get rather tiring on the audience. Keep things simple and remember that the slides are there to enhance your verbal presentation, not the other way around.

5. Ineffective Use Of Images

It is true that a picture is worth a thousand words and images can definitely enhance your presentation. The key is to use them to illustrate major points you are making. Don’t have too many images on any single slide. I usually use just one image per slide. Make sure the image is good enough quality by testing it out on a wall or screen first. Sometimes images that look fine on your computer monitor may end up looking bad when blown up on a wall. Also, make sure any images you use are relevant to the points you are making during your presentation. Don’t just put up images for the sake of having pictures up there. There must be some obvious connection between the images you use and the points you are trying to make.

6. Not Having Backups

Technology is technology. This means that it can fail when least expected. I’ve had to resort to using somebody else’s laptop when my own failed. It was a good thing that I had a backup copy of my Powerpoint file on a flash drive. From a speaker point of view, it is also a good idea to be able to deliver your presentation without the slides just in case of projector failure. I often bring some props to use in case I have to do a sudden version of my talk without slides and yes, I have had to do this in one or two cases.
So there you have it. If you can avoid just these six major mistakes that many presenters make out there, the effectiveness of your presentations will be increased dramatically. After you have created them, rehearse your presentations in advance with the slides, as your efforts will make you appear to be a more professional presenter in front of audiences.

Six Ways To Transform Your Presentations


1. Throw away PowerPoint.

PowerPoint presentations are the norm but are they the best way to communicate your message?The trouble with them is that they lock you into a straitjacket – you have to follow what is written on the screen.The audience reads the slides and it does not listen to you. Most PowerPoint presentations have too many slides with too much information on each.It becomes a dreary list. Try to condense your message into a small number of key points and then deliver them directly. Look at and speak to your audience and use very few or no slides at all.Replace Powerpoint with directness and enthusiasm.

2. Speak from the Heart.

Nothing persuades like passion – so be passionate about your message.Personal stories and strong feelings can sway audiences much more than dry facts and statistics.Of course if you can back up your personal feelings with supporting data then so much the better.But start from the personal – how it relates to you and how it relates to them – the audience.Lessons from personal experience that are relevant to their lives and careers are interesting and powerful ways of holding their attention.

3. Use Humor.

Many speakers shy away from humor because they worry the jokes may fall flat.But it is generally a risk worth taking.Audiences appreciate a speaker who tries to entertain rather than just inform.Choose your humorous lines carefully and then rehearse the words and timing so that you can deliver them with confidence.Self–deprecating jokes are safe bets.Making a joke about some well-known figure at the conference can work well too but it is wise to check with them first.Of course racist, sexist or offensive material should always be avoided.

4. Walk the Talk.

One of the great things about not using a slide presentation is that you do not have to hide behind a lectern pressing the mouse.You can roam the stage.As you walk you should look straight at the audience and ensure eye contact with people. This delivers energy and conviction that can never be achieved from behind a lectern.

5. Vary your Pitch.

Many speakers deliver their talks in a monotone – same pace, same volume, same tone throughout.The audience will find it much more interesting if you deploy variety in your style of speech.Your tone should be rich and clear – louder and softer as needed.Sometimes the most powerful points can be delivered in a very quiet voice- with the audience breathless to hear.One of the most potent and underused weapons in the speaker’s armoury is the pause.Used with effect it can build the anticipation, impact and retention of a key message.

6. Keep it Simple.

Tell them what they are going to hear and why it is important. E.g. ‘I am going to give you four key messages that will enable you to double your market share this year.’Then tell them.Finally summarise and reprise the main points.Finish with a strong and motivational summary.Long, complex presentations may appear sophisticated but often they will lose the audience and little is retained.The best presentations engage the audience with clear messages that are inspirational, powerful and easily remembered.



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