My six year old daughter recently put together her first PowerPoint presentation for a school assignment! Her topic was France and her slides included pictures of The Eiffel Tower, a pink poodle, a croissant and a castle. She then diligently made some palm cards with notes of what she planned to say about each slide. Brilliant!
If PowerPoint is simple enough for a six year old to use then why do so many presenters still make the same mistakes?
So many speakers read verbatim from their slides forgetting that their audience can also read! Slides are not designed to carry paragraphs of information or even full sentences. Ideally you should have no more than 4 bullet points per slide.
Another common mistake I see is moving quickly from one slide to the next without giving the audience time to play catch up. If you want to engage your audience it’s important to check in with them. Make sure they’re keeping up and that they’re processing and understaning the presentation.
The next time you make a PowerPoint presentation think about the following:
1. Have you overloaded your slides with too much information? Images, pictures and simple graphs are a great way of illustrating a point and can be more powerful and memorable than words. But if you need to use words, try not to use more than 4 bullet points per slide.
2. Don’t rush the slide show. Before changing slides try to set them up by introducing the concept on the next slide. This will also help you transition more smoothly from one slide (or idea) to the next.
3. Show the slide and PAUSE. Give you audience time to take in what they are seeing.
4. Supplement the slide. You should be giving your audience more information that what they can see or read.
Whilst my six year old still has alot of work to do on her “soft skills” (body language, voice projection, eye contact) she’s definitely on her way to understanding how to use PowerPoint effectively – and if she can do it, can’t you?