Heath Schreiweis

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Avoid 'death by PowerPoint' with some simple tips

Anyone who has sat through a workshop, a university lecture, or a board room meeting knows what we mean by 'Death by PowerPoint'. It's the guy with the 40 slide PowerPoint where every slid is packed full of content, images that 'try' to be relateable, stolen from clip art, and either WAY too many animations, or none at all.

PowerPoint presentations can be long, boring, and ugly. But done right they can transform the experience, making the lesson or meeting more engaging and something to remember.

Here are some tips to help you do it right.

  • Powerpoint presentations should be short, snappy, and include clear chunks of information. Limit the amount of content on a slide, don't stress too much about the number of slides. 20 slides with short, sharp points, is going to help people retain more than 5 slides packed full the text
  • Powerpoints are not just for text. Use graphics in your slides using techniques like iconography or infographics to break up and add colour
  • Powerpoint presentations should be high contrast, think black backgrounds with white text. It's easier to read on a screen than light backgrounds with dark text
  • When possible, PowerPoint slides should be high contrast, the important parts should be black or white to stand out - particularly if you are presenting to a large crowd.
  • Follow good graphic design principles like the rule of thirds (a grid that splits your slide into three sections horizontally and vertically). If you're using a graph or chart show-it big and bold, use visual cues like arrows to direct attention.

I saw this Ted Talk a while ago and it has some fantastic memory retention techniques. It's worth a watch if you're interested.

There are also some fantastic free and paid-for templates that you can use to make your PowerPoint look smart, a quick google search will set you on the right path, or look up websites like 'creative market' and 'graphic river' where you can purchase templates.

I would be amiss if I didn't suggest you get your PowerPoint designed by a graphic designer. If you have an important pitch, or you're trying to build a reputation for your training workshop. Invest in a designer to work with you and put together the presentation. It could be potentially game-changing. A designer could simply design you a sharp template that is on-brand to your message and give you some tools to use yourself, or the entire presentation and work with you slide-by-slide. If you would like to talk more about this, feel free to contact me

It's important to remember that you can't control how people will respond to your presentation. You might do everything right and still not get the results you want. The key is to try to be different and memorable.

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