The worst thing that could happen when you sit down to hear someone talk is viewing the dreaded PowerPoint presentation that pops up on the screen behind the speaker. It’s usually riddled with terrible colors that don’t mesh well together, long bullet points, and slides cluttered with too much information. PowerPoint presentations should be lively, fun and engage the audience, not put them to sleep. So, here are ten things to avoid in your next PowerPoint presentation.
1. Too many bullets on one slide. This frustrates the audience because then they have to try to keep up with what you’re saying as well as read the slide behind or beside you.
2. Too many words for one bullet. Try to stick to a minimum of four short sentences per bullet.
3. Avoid using dark backgrounds with light text. Think about contrast when deciding on colors. Dark backgrounds and light text make it hard to read the slide and distracts focus from what you’re saying.
4. Avoid low-quality images. When using PowerPoint for presentations, it’s important to choose only the best images, graphs, charts, etc. Blurry images can only hurt your presentation, as well as your reputation.
5. Avoid serif fonts. For online presentations, serif fonts are harder to read. Avoid fonts like Times New Roman and Cambria (fonts with short cross-lines at the ends of the main strokes of many letters) and opt instead for fonts like Arial and Tahoma.
6. Avoid clutter and use plenty of white space. This makes it easier on the audience’s eyes and also prevents them from trying to read the slide behind you while they listen to you simultaneously. The more white space, the less clutter you have.
7. Avoid confusing headings. Each slide should have an appropriate heading. Use a large, easily readable font for headings and a medium font for the body text of each slide. Make them as short and sweet as possible.
8. Avoid useless graphics. If the image or graphic doesn’t help drive your point home, then chances are…it’s useless. Remove any useless images or graphics, as they only distract from the main point of the presentation.
9. Avoid fancy, over-the-top backgrounds that may distract from the message. Aside from colors, avoid backgrounds that distract from the overall message with too many design elements. You can even run your presentation by a few friends before the big day and see what catches their attention. If the background distracts too much, it may be time to change it.
10. Don’t write blindly. Write for the intended audience. Make sure your purpose is clear for that audience. For instance, if you’re writing for an audience full of high school kids, you’re not going to write in complex terms. You’re going to write as if you’re speaking directly to them because, after all, you will be. The tone of your slides is going to be friendly and conversational, not professional and filled with jargon. Keep that in mind when thinking about the audience.
By keeping these tips in mind, your presentation will put less people to sleep and allow your audience to connect with you. This will help you better get your point across because you’re speaking their language and you’re doing it in a way that’s both visually and intellectually stimulating. Happy PowerPointing!