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10 Tips to Avoid Death by PowerPoint

Tedious, uninspiring presentations are an unwelcome feature of working life.  When it comes to delivering a presentation, however, there’s nothing you want less than to see your audience’s eyes glaze over halfway through.  Here are 10 tips to help you avoid the dreaded “Death by PowerPoint”.

Design and Presentation

1.       PowerPoint is not the only option
Consider other technology, such as Prezi.  Check out this list of PowerPoint alternatives.

2.       First impressions count
Make sure the title and description are engaging enough to capture people’s attention from the start (or, indeed, to entice them to attend your presentation if this is in a conference/exhibition setting).

3.       Quality not quantity
Keep the number of slides as low as possible, and the amount of content on the page similarly sparse.  You want the content to support what you’re saying, not act as a script.  The more text on page, the more likely attendees will be distracted reading your slides instead of listening to you speak.

4.       Graphics that make sense
Relevant images or graphics that support your points are the ideal.  Unrelated images or unattractive Clip Art will just detract from your content.  When it comes to graphs, if your audience needs to think deeply about what the graph represents, it’s too complicated.

5.       Slide show, not a fireworks show
Animations can be fun, but they can also be distracting and gimmicky.  A couple of subtle transitions should do the trick nicely.

Overall, aim for a streamlined, minimal approach punctuated by relevant images.

Style of Delivery

6.       Speed is not always of the essence
A measured, calm approach is key. You should speak neither so fast that your audience can’t follow, nor laboring the point to the extent that people stop listening. Sometimes a pause can be more effective than a quickly delivered string of additional examples.

7.       Be specific
Don’t talk in vague statements; refer to concrete examples and show screen shots of what you’re referring to.  Talk about evidence, not just theories.

8.       Personal touch
Don’t be a robot: infuse your presentation with personal stories where appropriate to gain empathy and get listeners on side.  This works especially well at the start of the presentation if you need to introduce yourself to a new audience.

9.       Interaction is key
Get the audience involved: keep them awake by asking questions, though don’t derail too much into a Q&A session when you’re trying to deliver content and transfer knowledge.  Try to incorporate any relevant information you learn from your audience so that you can tailor your content.

10.   A sense of humour
While you need to make sure you don’t stray into inappropriate territories, keep it light where possible.

One final bonus tip:

Think about any great presenters you’ve seen recently – The TED Talks YouTube Channel is a great source for inspiration – and take note of the tactics they employ to keep listeners interested in what they have to say.  Then, try to apply these to your next presentation.  So long Death by PowerPoint!

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