Tips and Tricks for Mastering the Art of the Presentation
Without the right mindset and tools, delivering a PowerPoint presentation can be almost as sad and boring as listening to one. Trauma-inducing boredom generated on both the delivery and receiving end of a slow-paced, text-heavy, slide show does not have to be the norm. There is a better way! Here are some tips and tricks that can set your presentation apart from the rest:
What NOT to do:
- Don’t just read the text from your slide. If there is text on the screen, the information should be in short bullet points that represent the highlights of what your audience should understand. You know when you’re in class and someone asks the teacher, “Is that going to be on the test?” That stuff, the test stuff, is all that should be on the screen.
- Don’t make your screen too busy. Make sure whatever you have on the screen applies to what you’re talking about. Fancy fonts or backgrounds serve no purpose other than to distract. Those funny comics about “real-life” teaching are overplayed and not exactly hilarious. Get to the point quick and stick to it. Clip art is cute and a well-placed graphic can add tons of value. It’s your job to avoid the useless and distracting and focus on the functional.
- Don’t get carried away with media content. We love movie clips, but watching 5 minutes of a movie that should’ve taken 20 seconds is overdoing it. Cut your clips down using free editing software (Quicktime, iMovie, etc). I know videos help fill up some of your talk time, but if I wanted to watch a bunch of movie clips without any context, I’d rather go to YouTube.
What you ought to do:
- Tell a story. When giving a presentation you need to have a beginning, middle, and end. You need to have structure because that helps with the function of your presentation. This also helps with flow since telling a story makes you sound less like Siri or Cortana and more like you as you speak. Sounding like you is more engaging and helps your audience connect with you.
- Practice, practice, practice. Before you give your presentation to others, try giving it to yourself. I don’t mean to say it in front of a mirror, I mean say it in front of a camera. Set a camera up in the back of a room and then go through your whole presentation. Watch it and look for things you could, add, change, or adjust. If you can, get some friends or family to come volunteer to hear you as well. Have them give you feedback and apply it.
- Use movement to help keep their attention. Every presentation software out there has tools to help animate slides and add effects to text. Learn what those are and use them to your advantage. I’m not saying you should use it for every line of text or on every slide, instead, remember that those features are there to help you tell the story in an engaging way.
- Lastly, try to live by the motto that less is more!