At some point of your academic or professional life, you will likely be called upon to deliver a slideshow presentation. Done properly, these can be impressive and informative, effectively showing off your artistic and public speaking skills.
Done poorly, and they can completely turn audiences off from any point you are trying to make.
Slideshow presentations can be challenging to do, but there is no denying their impact. Here are some tips to create and deliver them effectively.
1. Test everything beforehand
It’s always a good idea to do a trial run before the actual presentation. Nothing is more terrifying than discovering, five minutes before your slot, that the computer cannot open your file because it is saved in the wrong format.
Make sure your presentation is in line with your venue’s technical requirements This goes doubly so if you are using audio, video, or any other kind of multimedia. Bring a laptop, with backups of your slides, in the event of unexpected mishaps.
2. Use your words wisely
Don’t fill your slides with paragraphs of text. A good rule of thumb is the “7 x 7 rule”: every slide should not have more than seven lines or bullet points, and each line should not have more than seven words.
Summarise everything and only put the most important information in your presentation.
While presenting, do not just read from your slides – this wastes time, as your audience can read the slides themselves. The words you say should enhance and elaborate on the information presented, not merely repeat it.
3. Size does matter
As your audience will see your information displayed on a large surface, make sure your presentation is clear when projected, especially for those seated at the back of the room.
For clarity, fonts sized 24 and upwards are best. Avoid italics as they are hard to read at first glance. And make sure your images are of high enough resolution to be projected properly.
4. Utilise the power of pictures
Images have impact, but use them wisely. Funny pictures and memes provide comic relief but may feel jarring if used carelessly.
As with text, do not clutter your slides with pictures. Often, one very good image is enough for one slide.
5. Avoid colour clashes
Many presenters like to use different colours for visual oomph. One common mistake, however, is using font colours that blend in too well with their backgrounds. Audiences will find it difficult to read the information presented.
To avoid this, always choose colours that strongly contrast with each other. Also avoid having more than four colours on one slide.
6. Go easy on the special effects
One or two sound effects or animations when changing slides can be cute. But these quickly become annoying if they come with every transition, especially if they are lengthy. So do use them sparingly.
7. Time your presentation
It is very easy to go crazy with creating slides without realising how much time it would take to display and explain them. Run through your presentation at least once to estimate how long it will take. You wouldn’t want your audience to feel like you are droning on and on.
While there are exceptions, a general rule is for one slide to be displayed for about a minute. Combine or break up the information in your slides to maintain a good flow.