We all know what it’s like sitting through a lackluster presentation, it can leave you bored, unimpressed and in too many cases asleep. On the flip side, a professional, engaging, interactive presentation can make you feel energised and wanting more. If you’re looking to wow potential clients by showing them everything your company is capable of, then you need to make sure you really nail the presentation.
So, how can you make your business presentation really cut through the PowerPoint dominated world? These tips will make sure you’re doing it right.
Obviously, PowerPoint is a great tool for presentations, but you need to remember, it should not be a replacement for the presenter’s homework. In other words, don’t solely rely on the PowerPoint slides as talking points. Take some time to pre-prepare cue cards; they’ll help prompt elaboration on the information in the PowerPoint and ensure that you don’t fumble and stutter over slides. There’s nothing more boring than watching a presenter read off the text on the screen and nothing else during a presentation.
PowerPoint can definitely enhance a presentation, but only if the audience members can see and read it. Too many PowerPoint designs and presentations make the mistake of using an illegible font. A good rule of thumb is to use simple, open fonts like Arial or Helvetica, these are easy to read, especially when they are large enough.
Remember though, the presentation should also match your companies brand, that means utilising company fonts and colors. A more unique font can stand out and attract more attention if used correctly – such as in headings and for highlights. When using a more distinctive font, make sure it can be easily read. Don’t use fonts that are too frilly or complicated.
How many times have you squinted to see what’s on a PowerPoint slide? Remember to keep the font size large enough. Don’t use a tiny little font size, and avoid using italics as it makes text difficult to read. Additionally, don’t overdo it with text; keep it concise and only include up to six lines per slide, with six to eight words per line. Try using bullets and short sentences. When in doubt, spread the necessary information out over several slides. You should be relying on your preparation, not the content on your slides.
Use Backgrounds Wisely
You may be inclined to go all out with colours, backgrounds and borders – but overdoing it can be a mistake. All too many PowerPoint designs go OTT with colors and backgrounds, so in order for the presentation to stand out and be professional, keep it clean, sleek and simple.
Avoid using the rainbow on your slides. Instead, select a few colors that match your brand and use those throughout the presentation for continuity. Select 2 or 3 primary colors and 1 or 2 additional colors for highlights.
The same guidelines apply for the background. Stick with a background that isn’t too colorful and provides enough contrast. Dark text on a light background is usually easier to read than light text on a dark background. Also, although it may be enticing to use a real image as a background, these often cause issues with presentations. Not only are they difficult to put text on, but they will also distract your audience from the important points on your slides.
Keep Things Moving
You’ve got a presentation which is heading towards 30 slides – this is going to be a long haul, not only for you, but for your audience. We don’t want your potential customers nodding off half way through your presentation. This is why, it’s important to break up slides of text with slides that include images or animations.
A moving image can help audience members refocus on the presentation, bring them back to reality and re-engage with what you’re saying. A little comic relief if suitable also goes a very long way to keeping your audience listening. Remember though, too much movement/flashing/animation can be irritating. Don’t loop your hilarious GIF animation so much that it makes audience members want to avert their eyes. Try utilising a slow pan or zoom on a photograph (maybe a product image), to create interest.
Keep It Simple Stupid
Let’s say, the presentation you are about to walk into is a pitch for a fantastic new client. It’s worth a lot to your business, so nailing the presentation is your number 1 priority. It may be tempting to include every piece of information on your PowerPoint slides, to make sure these potential clients have all the information they need to make a decision. However, step back and consider that the audience is highly unlikely to remember all the fine details of your slides. They are more likely to remember how you spoke and presented and the jokes you made.
An overly detailed, overcomplicated PowerPoint presentation will make your presentation hard to follow. Try including only the main highlights in your slides, and use your cue cards to elaborate if necessary. Utilise your beautiful images and insightful graphs only when they enhance your content and are easy to understand.
If you have a highly detailed service/product and need to convey the finer details, consider providing handouts after the presentation to further describe points that need more explanation.
A well designed, cohesive, professional PowerPoint presentation can make all the difference when it comes to impressing potential clients – so try following the tips above and see how you go.
About the Author
Clancy Clarke is the Organic Search manager at DesignCrowd, a design crowdsourcing platform making crowdsourcing more accessible for small business. Clancy has over 7 years of online marketing experience ranging from large in-house roles to agency land. He’s got a passion for online marketing, content marketing and analytics.