Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Organizational Tip #10 - Creating Effective Presentation Slideshows

Creating effective slideshow presentations can keep your presentation on point, in an order that will make the most sense to your audience, and keep you on time.  Whenever we create a presentation there is a goal in mind.  Whether you are trying to teach something, share how a product works, share an experience or best practice, or even to supply information in a more visual format.  Whatever the purpose of your presentation, staying on point will help you get through your presentation while staying within the allotted time frame while successfully explaining your topic.  Listed below are some helpful tips for creating your next slideshow.

  1. Clearly define what the purpose of your presentation is.Ask yourself, what is it you are hoping to accomplish?  Are you training people on how to use new software?  Are you sharing financial figures for a specific time period?  Are you comparing sales figures to marketing campaigns?  Whatever the purpose of your presentation, make sure you have a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish so you can best explain it to others.  Having a firm understanding of what you want to share will help you be more effective when you are presenting.
  2. Map how you are going to get to your goal before you start creating slides.
    Many times it is easier to start with the end in mind before you start creating slides.  For example, if you were going to have a slideshow presentation for new employees on how to be successful at your company, you would need to cover many other topics first.  While the presentation was designed to give the new employees the resources they need to be effective, you could easily work backward to figure out what all it would take to do that.  How can an employee be effective?  They would need company resources.  How can they get access to company resources?  They would need network access to company resources and the knowledge of how to find them.  How can they get network access?  Human Resources needs to request it from IT.  but you will need to show all the steps along the way to help them get there.  As you can see, working backwards can be helpful in some situations.
  3. Create an introductory slide showing the steps for what you are trying to accomplish.
    List the title of each subsequent slide in order in an introductory slide.  This will let your audience know where you plan to take them and will help reinforce what you are showing them.
  4. Keep the information on each slide in succinct phrases rather than sentences.
    Keep the number of bullets to five or less for each slide and the information in each bullet point in phrases instead of full sentences.  This is one of the most important tips for a successful presentation.  When you create full sentences for each bullet in your slides, your audience is reading the slides instead of listening to your presentation.  Unfortunately, this is human nature and no matter what you are saying, most people are not listening.  Additionally, and also quite important, full sentences reduce you to a reader as well.  If your bullet points are full sentences you will instinctively read them rather than expanding on phrases meant to give you direction for your topics.  When you use phrases the creative side of your brain is allowed to take those phrases and turn them into strong points mixed with personal experiences and examples.  If you do not know enough about the topic to use phrases instead of full sentences, you should reconsider if you are the best person to be giving the presentation.
  5. Create a summary slide.
    At the end of your presentation create a slide with bullets to summarize your most important points.  Quickly reiterate each point on this slide but be careful of belaboring the point.  At this point in your presentation, you want to touch on the most important, most dramatic, most unique aspects of your presentation briefly and end on a high note.
While giving a slideshow presentation can be intimidating, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself that will reduce the anxiety that can surround giving a presentation.  Define what you are trying to accomplish and organize your ideas from there.  Create introductory and summary slides to make it easier for your audience to follow your ideas, and use short phrases instead of full sentences to keep your audience from reading while you are speaking.  This will also provide you with the cues you need to stay on track while allowing you room to expand upon your ideas in the ways necessary for your audience.  

One last thought, there will always be someone with a question that can hang you up.  Sometimes you may not know the answer or have the exact figure with you, other times the question does not even make sense because it represents how little the audience member grasps your subject.  Whatever the reason, remember, it is okay to say you will answer the question in depth after the main part of your presentation is over.  Whatever you do, do not let the question derail you!  Answer quick and easy questions if you can answer it in less than a minute, otherwise table it until after the presentation.

As always, good luck!


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