Because our company often collaborates with other businesses for seminars and presentations, I get the unique opportunity to review scores of power point presentations to ensure brand compliance. Yes, I know, you are all very jealous of my job now!
While building a solid power point presentation can be complicated, it doesn’t have to be. Whether you have a fancy template or not, here are 6 very simple principles you can observe. If you do, I promise you your presentation will be more refined than most.
- THERE IS NEVER A GOOD REASON FOR EXCESSIVE USE OF CAPS, BOLD, THE COLOR RED AND EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!!!!!!!! You may be passionate about your topic, but let that come through your personality, and use restraint in your actual presentation.
- The use of bullet points:
– When a bullet is a complete sentence, include a period at the end of it.
– No period here
– And though I’m breaking my own rule here – Be consistent in a set of bullet points by making them all complete sentences or all phrases.
– Use CAPS consistently in your bullets as well – especially in a list of bullets with several, short phrases. Either capitalize the first word of each phrase and none of the others, or capitalize all proper words in each phrase.
- Small, the new big. For some reason, many users fall prey to the temptation of making fonts as large as physically possible. Don’t do it. White space has value and makes for a more clean read for your viewers. Especially if you will be projecting the presentation on to a large screen, stick with a reasonable font size.
– If using a Times font, larger than 48 pt isn’t necessary. Somewhere between 24-40 is about right for headers/titles, and then between 16-24 for your text.
– Don’t go too small either or you run into another visual challenge. If you are forced to go below a 14 or 16pt Times-style font, break that slide into two.
- Color Palette – Even if I managed marketing for the Rainbow Coalition, I would limit the color palette in a power point presentation to 2 or 3 colors or tones. A good way to add color to a presentation without becoming overdone is to include relevant and quality photographs. Otherwise, keep it simple.
- Be sure to set expectations up front – how long will they be there and why will they be glad they came. Sometimes orally is the best way to do this, but it never hurts to include objectives at the beginning of a presentation.
- Handouts – for the love of the trees, whatever creatures make ink, and the gal who has to maintain the copy machine, do NOT make 25, full-color copies of your presentation to hand out to attendees. Take the time to prepare a simple outline of key points in your presentation on 1-2 sheets of paper and then provide that, along with a notepad and pen (with your logo on them if applicable), to your guests. This way, everyone wins.
Content and flow are probably the most critical pieces to a successful presentation. And, of course, in a live presentation the personality of the speaker can overcome a multitude of problems. For these components, you are on your own. But at least if your content is dry, the flow is out of whack, and no one seems to think your jokes are funny, you’ll still have a polished and consistent presentation!