Somewhere along the line, the art of presenting got lost. More often than not with presentations, we’re subjected to decks packed to the brim with useless information that bores us to tears. The illegible slides fail to motivate and inspire, and we’re left feeling overwhelmed and confused. We seem to have forgotten that slides should merely serve as visual cues, providing structure and flow. They shouldn’t be used as a script.
So how does one give an engaging and memorable presentation? The following tips will help you get started.
Use the 10/20/30 Rule
Guy Kawasaki believes a presentation should have 10 slides, last no more than 20 minutes, and contain no font smaller than 30 points.
10 is the optimal number of slides in a presentation because a normal human being cannot comprehend more than 10 concepts in a meeting (this is even a stretch for most of us).
You should give your 10 slides in twenty minutes. After this, it’s time for a Q&A session. The Q&A will help the presenter determine whether or not they are giving enough attention to the hotspots, as well as with gauging audience sentiment.
30 point font
Often presentations tend to have 10 or 12 point fonts so more text can be crammed in.
You’ll lose your audience’s attention as they struggle to read it, which leads me to my next point…
Use more visual content and less text. If a slide is packed with too many words or statistics it becomes overwhelming. According to the SAGE Handbook of Political Communication, the human brain can process visual information up to 60,000 times faster than decoding text.
The average PowerPoint slide has around 40 words. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who was renowned for his outstanding presentation style, among other things, kept text lean.
The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs
In the first three minutes of his original iPhone presentation, he used a grand total of 19 words spread over roughly 12 slides – an average of less than two words per slide. The CEO of a company I used to work for used Jobs’ approach of minimal text, and he always held the attention of everyone in the room.Presenting is an art that takes time to perfect.Click To Tweet
Use professional photos
Ditch the clipart. Every image should be powerful, relevant, and paint 1000 words. Images are not there just to make everything look pretty, they must support your key messages. If you don’t have a huge catalogue of internal resources, consider purchasing images from a stock photography site such as Shutterstock or Getty Images. Alternatively, you can grab some outstanding free images from Pixabay.
Avoid fancy transitions
Aside from giving people motion sickness, slides packed with too many spins, wipes, fades or folds detract from the presentation – the gimmick ends up becoming the focus, and we lose sight of important takeaways.
Take people on a journey
Storytelling is a great way to make a presentation memorable, as it creates an emotional connection. The best presenters take their audience on a journey, leaving them feeling inspired and motivated. If your business has an extensive history, hone in on some of its milestones and how they’ve led the company to where it is today. Your story doesn’t even need to be real – get creative and use your imagination to help get your point across.
Use an alternative such as Prezi. Prezi is a flash-based application that allows the user to create a presentation using a large, blank page instead of traditional slides. The main difference with Prezi is that, unlike PowerPoint, a Prezi presentation is nonlinear – a story presented with multiple paths from point A to point B using a canvas instead of slides.
Asses the value of every slide
Remember as a presenter to always keep the big picture in mind. You’re aiming for maximum impact, with the end goal being to educate, inform, and drive a call to action. To do this, place yourself in the audience’s shoes, and critically assess every part of your presentation. Does this bit add value? Will people care? Why?
Everyone is time poor nowadays, and people get pissed off when their precious time is wasted. If you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to present to others, don’t take it for granted. Aim to be memorable. Presenting is an art that takes time to perfect.
Content marketer, blogger, author and tech geek.