Guidelines For a Successful PowerPoint Presentation

The best PowerPoint presentation will be easy to read and comprehend.

During class today, three students gave their PowerPoint presentations on European history. All three students had one thing in common, they choose the wrong color scheme for their slides. I immediately lost interest cause I could not read the words on the screen. I understood why they choose the color. They matched the color to their topic. For example, one of the students’ topic was Lenin, communism and socialism. He choose a red background with black letters. The red and black represented the colors in the USSR flag. However, I could not read a word on the screen. Yet, I am sure he had no problem reading from the computer screen cause that’s what he did. Therefore, the color scheme might look good on the computer screen, but its perceived differently on the screen your fellow students, associates, boss or professor will view. Your color choice can make or break your presentation. Always use a light background with dark letters or vise versa. Be careful the letters do consistently contrast on the screen. One of these students used a blue template that had light and dark blue swirls. She used dark blue letters. Some of the words went into the dark blue background and were difficult if not impossible to read. So, if you use one of the color backgrounds always check to make sure this does not happen to you.

The best PowerPoint presentation is created on a white background with black or dark letters.

Choose color carefully. Red brings attention. Too much can be a disaster. It also is suppose to trigger emotion. Use in moderation. Never use Blue on green or vise versa. You won’t be able to read it on the screen. Remember green is the least liked color of executives. Lime green is a terrible choice for a background. Again, your best choice is to either use a plain white template available with Microsoft PowerPoint or choose a template with a white background with a little design at the top. Avoid background pictures. The picture competes with your words and makes it difficult to read. Remember, the purpose of your presentation is to present your topic in a clear and concise manner. White letters on a dark background is not a very good choice either. However, it is better than the above mentioned color schemes.

Keep it simple (KISS)

Its best to keep your wording short and concise. Make a bullet list. Avoid long sentences. You can elaborate during your presentation or not. The bullet list serves as cues for what you want to say. One of the best presentations I have witnessed was created using pictures. One picture covered the entire screen. No words. The student explained each picture in detail. Her presentation held everyone’s attention. Out of 20 presentation so far, this is the only one that I remember. Everyone else’s was truly forgettable.

Letters should be large enough to see from the back of the room. Avoid too much on any one slide. You will be able to tell how much is too much, cause the words will get smaller. Try to make your wording concise. Its always good practice to use one side for a picture that pertains to your topic and one side for your words. The picture will add interest to your presentation. If you have to use a graph or a pie chart. Put it on the whole slide and explain your findings without using a bullet list. This way the focus is on the graph or pie chart, not on your words.

Avoid transition, sound and animation.

Although these features are rather nifty, they can be annoying. Consider this, you will be nervous when presenting. Everyone is. So, you might forget to click to bring the next line onto the screen and get all mess up. Sound is only useful if it pertains to your topic. For example, if your topic is Mozart and music appreciation, you might click on short soundtrack link of Mozart’s music on the screen. However, do not run the music in the background. It will distract from your presentation. The same is true with video. If your presentation is simply an exercise in PowerPoint, then by all means use every feature it has. If your presentation is on a specific topic, then focus on your report not on the PowerPoint features. You will make a better impression on your teacher or boss if you know your subject material.

Remember, your teacher or boss are only interested in the material you are presenting. You have to present this information in a clear and concise manner. All the fancy features you can use will distract from your report and make you look amateurish.

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