My work with educators and professionals sees me reviewing and creating PowerPoint presentations regularly. As with most communication channels, the key is to keep the message clear and succinct, and even more so when using a PowerPoint presentation as your mode of delivery. Less is more.

What not to do in your PowerPoint presentation

PowerPoint has some great features, but over-use them and you might find that your key message will be lost somewhere between your slide transition and your choice of ClipArt.

When creating your presentation, do not:

  • Use any transitions – if you must, then use only one type
  • Use sound effects
  • Use ClipArt images – free online stock images, or even royalty-free images from Flickr, are much better and more professional
  • Combine the use of transitions, sound effects and ClipArt
  • Read off the slides – use your notes for this
  • Put your name on every slide – surely your audience has the ability to remember your name
  • Mix font styles or templates throughout your slides
  • Fill your slides with text – your audience is there to listen, not read

Steps to developing your PowerPoint presentation

Step 1: Plan your presentation

You have a message that you want to convey to an audience and you’re doing this via face-to-face presentations. Before you even start developing your framework, have an idea of what you want to achieve from the presentation – what do you want the audience to leave with?

Step 2: Develop your framework

Create your presentation and write a new heading on each slide. Ideally each slide will cover a different point, or will mirror your table of contents if you are summarising a document.

As you create your presentation make the headings flow. Start with an introduction, end with a conclusion and question time, and then fluff out the middle.

Step 3: Brain dump

Free type everything you wish to say for each point or slide. Type as you would talk. Let PowerPoint auto-adjust the font at this stage, it doesn’t matter if you fill the slides with text because you will go back to refine each of your slides. This part of the process is allowing your mind to wander.

Step 4: Refine and summarise

Go back to the start of your presentation and refine and summarise your brain dump. Copy and paste what you’ve written either into the notes section, or create a new Word document.

The notes section in PowerPoint has limited space, so if you are a presenter who must have everything written word-for-word then using Word will work better for you. Create a new page in Word for each slide, add the slide title and copy and paste your verbatim text.

Within the slide, however, summarise and bullet your main points. Try to make sure your font size doesn’t go below 20 and if possible have your bullets double spaced. This will be much easier on the eye for the audience. If you must use more than one slide to get your point across to your audience, then do so. A PowerPoint presentation with more slides and better spread information is far more professional than a presentation with less slides and too much information!

Step 5: Proofread and rehearse

Lastly, proofread your written component and rehearse (and time) your spoken component. Look through the content for errors or inconsistencies, particularly with regards to font size and style.

Your final slide

Concluding remarks and question time are traditionally left for the end of your presentation; however I suggest allowing questions throughout your presentation so as to engage your audience. Your audience is of course there to listen and respond or participate; not read and remember their questions.

Your contact information and a “where to from here” statement are also popular ways to end corporate presentations.