You may have heard of the famous 10/20/30 rule, devised by Guy Kawasaki, for designing presentations. This rule states that using 10 slides in 20 minutes at a 30 point minimum font size is the most effective presentation strategy—but what does this really mean?
The most important thing to remember, particularly if you’re using PowerPoint to convey your message, is to keep your audience in mind when preparing your presentation. Your audience wants a relevant presentation, not just something that is visually appealing.
A common mistake speakers make when designing PowerPoint presentations is being too passionate about it that they put everything they know into it. In trying to get their point across, presenters tend to use complex jargon and impart too much information, leaving the audience confused about the actual purpose of the presentation.
So how can you simplify your information but still convey a powerful message to your audience?
Here are 10 suggestions:
1) Cut out the wordiness
Ironic as it may seem, an essential part of proving a point is to use a minimal amount of words per slide so that the audience is focused on you, not on the screen. It’s rather difficult for any kind of audience to read texts and listen to you at the same time. If you have longer statements, break them down into multiple slides and highlight the key words. This doesn’t mean you limit your content to dull, boring facts. Feel free to incorporate anecdotes or quotes as long as they’re relevant and support your message.
2) Add pictures
Instead of more words, supplement your ideas with vivid imagery. Again, the key is not overusing photos to the point that it makes your presentations look unprofessional. Photos should only be used if they promote or emphasize the main idea of your slide.
3) Use appropriate animation
Like pictures, use animation only when appropriate and only if you’ve completely rehearsed your presentation with the animation flow. Otherwise, they will be distracting and will make it appear that you’ve designed your presentation in poor taste.
4) Don’t overuse numbers
As with words, minimize the amount of numbers you present in each slide. If you have charts that summarize the total figures toward the end, then you no longer need to fill up your entire chart with the little numbers on the scale.
Aside from the obvious reason that larger fonts are more readable, size dictates the impact of your message and a larger one makes it easier for your audience to clearly grasp what you’re saying or want to highlight. Aside from font size, pay attention to the spacing between paragraphs, rows, and columns; you don’t want your text to appear jumbled.
6) Maintain consistency
The whole objective of your presentation is to drive home a point, not to make your presentation look cheesy. Keep your font sizes and the size and format of a box on one page consistent throughout your slides.
7) Limit bullet points
Keep your bullet points to a maximum of 5-6 per slide. In addition, the words per bullet point should also be limited to 5-6 words. It’s also wise to vary what you present in each slide, such as alternating between bullet points, graphics, and graph slides, in order to sustain the interest and focus of your audience.
Use bold colors and high contrast. A color may look completely different on your monitor than it will when projected on a large screen.
9) Tell a story
Everyone loves a good story, especially if it’s something that they can easily relate to. A good story begins with a problem and the more irritating the problem is for the audience, the more effective your presentation will be once you’ve provided a possible solution for them.
10) Be flexible
In order to develop a strong connection with your audience, you need to be flexible with your slides. During your speech, you may feel that some slides have become unnecessary; therefore you want to prepare your presentation in such a way that you can easily interchange or eliminate them. Conversely, prepare some optional slides in anticipation of questions or ideas you expect from your audience. This will give your presentation the “wow” factor.
When using PowerPoint to deliver a PowerFUL point, your goal isn’t to design the best presentation but the most effective one. This means creating a presentation that your audience can connect with through interest, participation, memory recall, and ideally, learning something useful.