A Manager’s Guide to Creating Effective PowerPoint Presentations
PowerPoint presentations play an imperative role in the marketing and development of any business. Whether the purpose is meeting a potential stakeholder, pitching to an investor, or hosting an online conference, PowerPoint has positioned itself at the very core of businesses.
Entrepreneurs and managers must know that a professional presentation is much more than just a couple of nice-looking slides. Your presentation’s goal is to cast an ever-lasting first impression, stand out from the crowd while educating your viewers, all at the same time. The impact which the right presentation can have on your audience is astonishing. And since a picture is worth a thousand words, PowerPoint presentations let you transform your unique ideas into reality.
By refining your PowerPoint presentations, you boost interactivity with the audience while you’re talking about the subject matter. To accomplish business goals, a healthy impression is necessary with investors and clients. An ideal professional presentation makes the company’s business proposition and business model stand out.
Integrating brand guidelines with your slides can help you achieve presentation integrity. While creating a presentation, you can make use of business PowerPoint templates. Templates help you showcase company vision, brand aesthetics, marketing, and sales collateral, services, and products so that you can resonate better with the viewers.
Let’s move ahead and understand how managers can create compelling professional presentations and communicate more effectively.
Know Your Audience
Before you begin creating your slides, you should consider who your audience is. Is it a board meeting with executives? A scrum with team members? Or a status update on a project to your client?
One should note that one size doesn’t fit all. The same goes for your presentations too. You should identify your audience and then tailor your presentation message to suit the audience better. If your audience possesses knowledge about the subject then it’s advised to delve deep. There can be a case where they know nothing about the topic, overwhelming them with detailed content can make them lose interest in your presentation.
Asking questions such as what your audience is like, what they expect from the presentation, how can you solve their problems, or how can you influence them, helps significantly in deciding the presentation flow. It is only then you can reach your audience the right way, persuade them about the subject, and initiate a call to action.
Once you know what keeps your audience up at night, you can start structuring your presentation and come up with an engaging design. The presentation should help you establish a symbolic relationship with the audience. It is only then you can trigger an emotional response and initiate a strong call to action.
Create a Presentation Structure
By planning and creating a logical presentation structure, you will create a blueprint that will allow you to deliver on stage with confidence. The presentation structure will help you determine where you are in your presentation. You should design the presentation structure in such a fashion so that your audience keeps wanting more.
A presentation’s structure should begin with brainstorming. You should think about all the innovative ideas and note them into a rough draft. You should determine the message you wish to convey to your audience through the presentation. The purpose of your presentation might be informing, entertaining, persuading, or inspiring the audience.
The presentation message should be easy to grasp since slide one. This will help your audience comprehend the subject matter better and understand the slides as you move forward. Your presentation should begin with facts and stories, then new insights about a problem or challenge should be explained.
Then comes your pitch – you should explain how you aim at catering the challenge and solving it. What is your vision about the problem? What are the available options? What are the proposed solutions? These should be included in your slides and highlight your interpersonal communication skills, taking your audience engagement to a whole new level. At the end of the day, your presentation should turn out an asset for them.
Decide the Visual Hierarchy
Now that we have a presentation structure, the next tip is to pay attention to the visual hierarchy of slides. The overall look and feel of your presentation sources from here. You should decide what might be potential parts in slides where viewers will be looking at or which elements are more likely to grab their attention first. You should also decide on a relevant font, the colour scheme for slides, contrast, and icon sizes.
Whether to use animations or not, how much text will be in the slides, these all should be answered while you’re deciding the visual hierarchy. Every slide element should be kept in order of its importance.
It is worth noting that the average attention time span for humans is just 8 seconds. Your presentation design and visual hierarchy play a crucial role in garnering the interest of your viewers and keeping a hold of the same till the end. Reading pattern, size of visual elements, space & texture of slides, tint, colour schema, etc., are important components of a presentation’s visual hierarchy.
At all times, your PowerPoint should stay simple, straightforward yet intuitive. Designers often make use of visual hierarchy to guide the audience’s attention first to the prime slide elements and then to less important ones.
Pick a Template
A ready-to-use PowerPoint template is a blessing in disguise. PowerPoint templates are a great way to kickstart your presentation process. A template provides you with the perfect layout, saves you considerable time, and helps you maintain consistency across the slides.
Depending on the purpose of the presentation, you can pick a template that serves the purpose. It can be said that not everyone has a knack for good design. We all have sat through presentations cluttered with text and visuals. A template is your escape to near perfection design. You just have to download a template that attunes to the topic and start filling in engaging content.
The best part of readymade templates is that they are 100% editable. You can easily change colour schemas, fonts, backgrounds, placeholders, etc. across the slides in one go. Companies can leverage the customization features for increased marketing efforts.
Customization drives engagement with your audience. If they can relate your presentation with your brand, its vision & values, you’re halfway there. Design consistency is another crucial parameter that drives engagement in the presentation. No one likes slides with jumbled up design, animations or overwhelmed with text. The template ensures design consistency and helps you keep the presentation simple and engaging at the same time.
Avoid Bullet Points
While delivering critical information through your slides, you should avoid using bullet points. These make information and data more difficult to remember for your audience. The key to success is to cut irrelevant and redundant information and keep your slides simple.
Although you can’t fully substitute visuals for text, you should only keep critical information in text and remove unnecessary words from the slides. People generally list multiple points on one slide. This kills the interest of your audience since the amount of data is too high to process. A good practice is to give every key point to its slide. This helps you avoid mentally exhausting your audience.
There might be a scenario where you have to present large amounts of important information such as quarterly performance, reports, or audit numbers. Using infographics and supplementing your slides with visual aids can increase engagement manifolds. Infographics are an amazing way to present information to your audience. You can convert numbers, showcase trends, and provide a bird’s eye view of data to your audience.
The bottom line is, the less is always better. Your presentation should strike the right balance between the text and visuals. Fewer bullet points and more visuals are your keys to get your message across the hall.
Your audience doesn’t expect you to read content right off the slides for them. Including high-quality self-explanatory visuals can be a game-changer for your presentation. Moreover, a human brain is more receptive to visuals than text. Using professional visual aids such as images, diagrams, the high-contrast background can aid message delivery to the audience.
Visual communication enables presenters to deliver information to the point. It’s much more flexible and attention-grabbing than verbal communication. Moreover, you can improve the credibility of the message you’re trying to convey by showcasing supportive visuals in the background. Visuals evoke emotions, are processed quicker, and stay long term in memory.
The psychology behind using visuals in your presentation is quite magical. Visuals make your audience pay attention, comprehend the content, remember it, and take some pieces of information with them. Having too much text in your slides motivates people to look at their phones rather than listening to you.
There is a phenomenon called ‘Death by PowerPoint’ in which your audience loses interest half-way through your presentation. Having engaging visual aids, that too at proper places across the slides can help you maintain your audience’s attention. Always remember that your viewers are always looking to conclude from your slides, they can only do it if they understand your content.
Say Yes to Descriptive Graphs and Charts
Every professional presentation is incomplete without numbers and analytical data. Using graphs and charts in your presentation will visualize different types of data, their relationship for your audience. Rather than projecting lines after lines of important findings, you should create graphs and charts. You can pick relevant graphs for your presentation from a wide range of graph types such as line graphs, cartesian graphs, bar graphs, or pie charts.
When it comes to comparing numbers between different categories or domains, you can make use of histograms. This will help you provide a crystal picture to your audience and they will be able to understand the data at a glance of the eye.
There might be a case when you need to compare & contrast between multiple data categories or variables. For that, you can make use of mekko or mosaic charts. One axis can be assigned to a metric and another axis can be used to plot how different divisions or brands are performing concerning that metric.
Population pyramids charts are another great way to illustrate the information. The graph helps you detect and showcase irregularities and value changes. You can compare performance, productivity, and more with a pyramid chart. The idea is to create beautiful visualizations for data which will aid the understanding of your audience.