Using PowerPoint to Support Your Presentation

PowerPoint can be an effective tool in making a presentation, but only if used properly.

Presenters, though, often forget that audiences are “there to see you, not your slides,” says Richard Harrington, a digital video expert. I recently took his online course, PowerPoint: From Outline to Presentation through Lynda.com.

“Effective speaker support is the goal,” he says.

SlideShare recently discussed 2013 trends around presentations and noted the following:
·         People want short, visual content
·         They want less text, meaning show it, don’t write it, and
·         They prefer images and fonts that are big

The key to a successful presentation is to organize it through an outline. Then gather the images, videos and links, finally creating the presentation.

You can build your outline in a Word document or using the outline feature in PowerPoint. Either way, you are determining the critical elements of your presentation.

Once you have your outline, determine what visual elements you can use to illustrate your points. These elements also will serve as triggers when you are speaking. PowePoint’s job is to not be your presentation but rather to support you as you speak.

If you are new to presenting, include your notes on the notes page and then present using “Presenter View.” This allows you to view your presentation with speaker notes on your laptop or tablet, while your audience views the presentation sans notes. To do this, go to the “Slide Show” tab and in the “Monitors” group, click “Use Presenter View.”

Once you have everything prepared, be sure to practice. You want to check the timing to stay within your allotted time. Click through the slides and each item on the slides to ensure that everything is working. Also check for spelling errors.

Now you are ready to give a successful presentation. Good luck!

How to Give a Successful Presentation

Whew! The 2013 NFPW Conference has ended.

Normally, I would be quite sad about that and missing all my friends. This year, though, I agreed to give two presentations, and I was scrambling to be ready. Overall, I think they went well (although that’s up to the audience members to really say).

The most difficult part of a presentation – at least for me – isn’t actually giving the presentation, it’s getting it started. I give my fair share of presentations so I thought I’d share a few tips that I have learned along the way.

Define your purpose. What do you want your audience to get from the presentation? Once I’ve determined that, I write it down and keep it front and center as I am preparing. I also focus on how I can explain my points, and, if I’m able to, entertain them a bit. I’m not a comedian, but I find sharing personal anecdotes makes a presentation more human.

Prepare and then prepare some more. For both of my presentations at NFPW, I did hours of research. Not all of it went into the presentation but I wanted to be able to answer any audience questions. I took a day off from work to research and begin organizing my notes. It helped to have a day of uninterrupted time to pull my research and thoughts together.

Simplify. With my purpose clearly defined, I went out of my way to stay on point and to keep the presentation as direct and impactful as possible. I wasn’t trying to impress with fancy slideshows. I wanted to convey information.

Know your audience. With NFPW, I know the audience is going to ask lots of questions. Participants will range from novices to veterans. I always look forward to a veteran member sharing additional information with me – and my audience. Many times I prefer to speak without a PowerPoint presentation because I like to engage and interact with my audience. At NFPW, I chose to use PowerPoint, because I know members are attending lots of sessions and gaining lots of information. Having a few (not hundreds) of slides on which key points are listed, helps to focus an audience. And I never read from slides.

Practice. I do a few practice runs of a presentation to ensure that timing works. I also review the material again to confirm that I am staying true to my objective. If I have time, I ask someone to review it or let me run through it with them. Invariably, I find a few things to tweak.

Using PowerPoint to Converse

I’ve been a great reader since I was quite small. So if you are going to read your PowerPoint presentation slides to me, let’s skip the presentation and, instead, you can just send it to me. Sorry for the sarcasm, but it’s one of my pet peeves with PowerPoint.

I also don’t need hundreds of slides. And I don’t need you to mix fonts and shout at me in all capital letters. And please don’t misspell words. Once I find a misspelled word or bad grammar you’ve lost me for good.

So now you know what not to do with PowerPoint. It’s what I keep in mind when I’m putting a presentation together – and I’ve been presenting frequently of late.

Before I even begin to create a PowerPoint, I think about the main message I want to convey and what points will support it. It’s almost like an outline. I always operate on the premise that technology won’t work, and could I present without my slides. The answer is yes.

My slides are intended to reinforce my messages or add a visual element to support my points. I do not read from my slides. Most of the time, I’m not even positioned where I can see the slides without craning my neck.

The words on my slides are phrases. There are no sentences because I’m not going to read them. The phrases are intended to capture the main thought or message and to help the audience stay focused. I use large fonts and try to keep the backgrounds on the slides simple. I want the person in the back of the room to be able to see the slide and the messages as easily as the person in the front of the room.

When I create my presentation I give my audience a brief overview of the topic and what they should expect to get from it. I like to think of it as my contract with my audience. I then provide the facts and supporting details before providing a wrap-up and strong finish.

If I did well, audience members will ask questions and will want to converse after the presentation. The next time you have to present, take an extra look at your slides. Are you conversing?