Five ‘b’s to better PowerPoint presentations

Think of these five b’s before you begin creating the visuals for your next presentation.

1. beneficial:  Ask yourself; do you really even need a slide deck ?  At bespeak, we say that every visual aid should be a synergistic component.  In other words, “it + you” should do more than either you or your visual could alone and when combined, become even more powerful . Think 1+1=3.

Remember, slides should NOT act as speaker notes, (if you need notes, hold them in your hand). Nor should slides require the audience to read.  Why?  We read and listen with the same side of our brain. When you show a slide that requires the audience to read, you are also requiring them to make a choice; they can either listen to you or they can read.  They cannot do both at the same time.  If you have created a slide deck that is full of text and that spells out everything you’ll say in the presentation, do everyone a favor and email it to them.  Let them read it in the comfort of their pj’s, in their own homes, at their leisure.  There is absolutely no benefit to them to get all dressed up to sit in a conference room or ball room and listen to you read your slides to them. The purpose of your slides is to act as a visual aid to them, not as speaker notes for you.

2. branded:  Your slides are a great opportunity to advertise your brand.  This can be done as simply as putting your logo in one of three corners, (we like the upper right or lower right, but we’ll leave that to your graphics guru).  The colors you use for your slides should also mirror your brand.  Our slides are orange and slate blue grey.  This allows us to remind audiences who we are without screaming it over and over.

  3. boring:  Yep, you read that right.  No shading, reflecting, no fancy fonts, no endless video.  No ridiculous clip art that moves, (yuk) photos overlapping and so small we can’t see them.  Don’t forget, you’re there, live and in person.  You are the primary communicator of your message.  Your PowerPoint slides are only there to help you show the things you can’t adequately tell on your own.  Don’t slap a “cute” clip art or photo on a slide “just because”.  Less is more when it comes to visuals.

 4.  BIG:  Pretend we’re all old and need glasses.  Do not display text smaller than an 20 size font.  No one should have to squint to see what’s on the screen. Period. If you’ll have to say, “You can’t really see this but…” hit DELETE now.

5.  build:  As in animate. Be a control freak when it comes to your visuals. Remember, the idea is to keep everyone with you. For example, if you are showing a line chart of 5 years of revenue, show the X and Y axis first, then animate (per click) the years one at a time. This way your audience doesn’t get ahead of you, or lost, or bored. And by the way, boring ( b #3) absolutely applies to animation.  Things should appear in one of the “subtle” options.  NO bouncing in, checkerboarding in, booming in.  In addition, everything should animate the same way throughout the presentation.  For example, if you choose “appear” for animation, everything that animates throughout the entire presentation should come up on the screen via “appear”.  Doing this makes the builds  invisible to the audience and thus not a distraction from you and your message.

Think of your audience and follow our 5 bespeak b’s the next time you create a PowerPoint presentation. Think of them, (not you!) turn your focus 180 degrees, and you’ll be creating slides that truly act as visual aids for your audience.   Better yet, you’ll be heard.

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