Putting the power in PowerPoint: how to make an impact

How do some people manage to captivate an audience? How do they give a great presentation with seemingly little effort? And how do they produce effective PowerPoint presentations that grip and inspire their listeners?

The potential of PowerPoint can make a huge impact. In this article, I will outline the ways that you can add power to your PowerPoint.

Maybe you’re struggling to get started. Maybe you want a little extra confidence. Or maybe you’re an experienced presenter but you’re struggling to add that extra spark. Whether a beginner, amateur or professional, this article can help anyone wanting to produce effective PowerPoint presentations.

Ultimately, you can break down the process of creating an impactful PowerPoint into three steps: content, design and presentation.

Content

The content is the foundation of your presentation. While design and presentation might be the flashier elements of PowerPoint, the content itself is vital to making an impact. However well-styled a presentation, the audience will notice flaky and weak content. So start on a solid base and inspire power from the beginning with great substance to your presentation.

Topics

You can’t always choose your content, but when you can, decide upon interesting presentation topics.

Balance the boring with the stimulating. Support dense reports with relatable anecdotes. Use humour to soften the sharpness of serious data. Even if you can’t change the core information, you can garnish the words around it.

Facts and figures are important but they shouldn’t be the whole PowerPoint. They should support your content but not dominate it. So give your presentation an interweaving common theme. Even the most boring topic can be made fascinating with the right spin to it. Transform your content into something relatable. Compare it to something of significance for your listeners.

Interesting presentation topics turn a tedious meeting into a rewarding performance.

Text

A golden rule of presenting is not to read from the PowerPoint. It’s an incredibly easy habit to slip into as it feels safer and simpler to face the screen than focus on your audience. Even the most practised professionals do it. One easy way to break away from the temptation is to reduce the text you use. Not only will it force you to face forward, but the minimalism will also give more impact to your PowerPoint.

Brutally eliminate words. Simplify graphs. Use the neater and friendlier template charts like the ones on Templates by 24Slides rather than the complex ones of Excel. Provide a simple and consistent colour scheme. Make one visual fill the screen rather than using multiple distracting images. Leave your logo and contact details for the last slide instead of including them throughout the presentation.

Don’t provide multiple points per slide but make one single solid statement. Let your PowerPoint support you. Take attention from the screen and allow it to settle on you. It’s a strange contradiction – but if you want to give impact to your PowerPoint, make sure it’s not the focus of your presentation.

What you say gives your presentation power. So make sure to choose your words wisely. Check out our article “How to Deliver a Persuasive Presentation” for writing guidance.

Tell a story

Stories craft an interesting presentation. Topics that inspire and intrigue the audience on a personal level are much more likely to impact your audience. But an unconnected series of facts and figures will not. Stories present facts, experiences and advice in a creative and subtle manner. They are also proven to improve your memory of the event. And specific literary techniques can emphasize specific points of your presentation without blatantly selling your idea.

Richard Turere, for example, uses this method very effectively. He dives straight into his story, includes emotive language, and explains how his invention solved a local problem. All in storytelling form.

Perhaps a single story can become the foundation and arc of your presentation. Or you can use multiple anecdotal examples. These always help to bring the listener into your way of thinking. Either way, storytelling is a trick that many presenters have realised and use successfully. Check out this article for specific storytelling advice in presentations.

Design

Content is, of course, important. But the design of your PowerPoint is what really gives it its kick.

Effective PowerPoint presentations don’t need effects. Their power is in their simplicity. Too much movement, like starburst images and spinning fonts, are just distracting and often dizzying. If you feel you must use a PowerPoint effect, use ‘appear’. This is the simplest one and it can actually break up your slide into more digestible chunks for the audience. But a great presentation knows how to make a lot of impact with minimalist design.

Keep reading for more information on how to put power into your PowerPoint.

Visuals

Undeniably, we are visual creatures. It’s one of our most dominant senses and both consciously and subconsciously affects our thinking and behaviour. So influencing what your audience can and cannot see is paramount.

Strong, simple visuals make a huge impact. Charts and graphs not only relay information but do so in an aesthetic and effective way. But explain the charts yourself. Don’t fill it with information but use it as a foundation for your own explanation to the audience. Remember to consider the technical aspects of your visuals too. Use high-quality images. Pixelated, over-sized pictures look messy and unprofessional. The impact of the visual will be lost.

Ultimately, graphics and images make more impact than bullet points. This is an easy rule to remember and will transform your PowerPoint into a great presentation. For more information about the power of visuals, check out this Presentation Prep article.

Colours

Whole articles have been written on the importance of colour in PowerPoint. For example, our very own “How to Use Colors in Achieving 4 PowerPoint Presentation Themes”. Colour is so important to the design and impact of a presentation. The perfect contrast can emphasise important points. Subtle tones can inspire certain reactions in the audience. The right scheme can enhance the professional, creative or playful theme of a great presentation. Effective PowerPoint presentations use colour in clever and impactful ways.

This article highlights the importance of colour in terms of presentation themes.

Font

Font is one of those things that is easily overlooked. As presenters, we focus so much on the content, thinking about the form of the words comes second. But it is possibly just as important. After all, if your font is too small or in the wrong colour, your audience can’t even read the words. So don’t make your audience squint. Make the font large and legible. And make sure your font colour contrasts in a readable way to the background.

Some dependable font styles include Times New Roman, Ariel and Helvetica. These have well-spaced characters and distinctive lettering. But script-like fonts like Old English and Windings are less legible. They might look more exciting but they definitely make less of an impact.

The Presentation Designer offers a useful article on font usage for presentations, called “5 Classic Presentation Fonts”.

While your choice of font is important, words shouldn’t be the only form of content. Mix it up with images, videos, audience participation or interactive sessions. Especially if your presentation is longer than average, changes in form make a huge impact. They break up the monotony of text and offer both mental and physical breaks for your audience. Effective PowerPoint presentations are dynamic and offer variety. You’ve never heard of a tedious yet impactful presentation.

Slider Sorter

The slider sorter is a greatly under-appreciated element of PowerPoint. We use it all the time yet we don’t fully understand its value. The slider sorter not only organises our slides, it organises our thoughts. By reviewing it often, you can your slides are becoming too busy. You can evaluate the flow and progress of the presentation. And it gives you the chance to step back and see the bigger picture of your PowerPoint.

With this perspective, you might decide to divide one slide into three. Or perhaps, you will make an image larger and more dominant to make a greater impact. This more external view takes you out of the invested focus you have on each individual slide. It keeps you on track to the purpose of your presentation. The clearer your purpose, the more impact it will make.

Templates

Templates can be both a blessing and a curse. Something too popular can seem predictable and tedious. Yet something too daring can be distracting and unnecessary. But a good balance can entice your reader and enhance effective PowerPoint presentations.

Avoid the most obvious PowerPoint templates, including elements like Clip Art. Obviously default formats like this can just look inexperienced and unprofessional. Basic designs are out of date and overdone. Your audience will recognise them immediately. Instead, branch out to new templates. We have hundreds of free templates available right here and new ones are being made all the time. The audience wants to know what makes you and your product or idea unique. So using a basic, standard template only undermines your exceptionality. Aim to adapt and personalise your slides to make truly effective PowerPoint presentations.

Keep up with the current trends of PowerPoint and show that you are familiar with modern presentation styles. Designs showing experience and attention to detail make great presentations.

Read our article on the “Ultimate PowerPoint Template Guide” for more details!

Presentation

After content and design, the last thing that can give your PowerPoint presentation impact is you. Your delivery is the final border between your idea and the audience. The message comes from you – your words. Your posture, presence and power.

Great presentations require great presenters. So follow our PowerPoint presentation tips and learn how to become one.

Be passionate

Passion is infectious. The energy you display on stage passes onto your audience. The more enthusiasm you put into your presentation, the more your audience will absorb it. Nobody believes in a product or idea if they see that the seller or speaker doesn’t believe in it. But if you present yourself with genuine passion and power, you can captivate an audience.

A solid PowerPoint is important. But ultimately, the focus is on you, not the slides. So talk about the things that inspire you. That’s not always going to be possible. A boring report or administrative meeting cannot always be naturally fascinating. But find the elements within it that motivate or grip you. Emphasise those parts and pass on your energy. You can transform something mundane into something magnificent. You have that power.

Be prepared

The only presentation technique as important as passion is preparation. The more prepared you are, the more you can focus on your PowerPoint presentation tips rather than your nerves. Knowing that you are ready will give you confidence. That confidence will naturally shine through and pass on its impact to your audience.

One key step to preparedness is practice. Effective PowerPoint presentations absolutely always require practice before the actual event. Knowing the order of the slides and coordinating that structure with your speech is important. While you don’t want to sound stiff and over-rehearsed, find the balance to present with flow and fluency. Smooth the transitions from one slide to the next, time your speech and double check the technical elements. These small PowerPoint presentation tips are the tiny details that make a huge impact.

For more help on how to prepare for a presentation, check out Forbes’ “How to Prepare for a Presentation”. Articles like these in themselves can help. Take advice from experts and professionals. It can only encourage and support your confidence and make you realise the universality of nerves of public speaking anxiety.

So next time you want to put power into your PowerPoint, consider these three key elements. Content, design and presentation. Follow our advice to make each one as powerful as possible. Effective PowerPoint presentations don’t create themselves. They require the inspiring and creative mind of a great presenter. Inject passion and persistence each step of the way then watch your PowerPoint shine.

Then you can look back and be proud of your presentation. Wrote it. Designed it. Presented it. Nailed it.