Here is the main thing you need to know about good presentation design:
You are the presentation.
Good presentation design is not about throwing together a whole load of slides with perfect graphics. Good design comes from realizing that you are the center of the presentation and the slides are just there to support you.
Let’s look at Barry’s story…
Barry’s boss asked him to do a presentation on a new set of HR policies. Barry jumped straight onto his PC and started working with PowerPoint. He had a nice, clean company template that he could use. He filled the slides with short bullet points on each of the new policies.On the final slide he added a chart showing the cost savings that will be achieved following the new policies.
Barry put everything together in less than an hour and patted himself on the back for getting everything done so quickly.
A few days later he delivered the presentation to the executive management team. He spent most of the time looking at the screen behind him and reading through the bullet points.
Satisfied that he delivered the required information, he answered a few questions and then closed his presentation.
So, what did Barry do wrong?
Barry didn’t do anything wrong, in fact he probably did everything according to accepted company protocols. However, he delivered a stock-standard, boring presentation.
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Here’s why Barry delivered a boring presentation:
Barry created his slides as a prompting device
Barry didn’t spend time thinking about how he would deliver his presentation. He used his slides to guide it instead. This is the problem most presenters run into: they deliver their presentations slide-by-slide, reading the bullet points from each.
The result? A dead boring presentation that every member of the audience wants to run away from.
What he should do is have the ability to deliver the presentation without using slides. Once he can deliver his presentation effectively, he should decide what slides he really needs to add emphasis to his presentation.
You see what we’re doing? We are preparing the presentation in such a way that slides are unnecessary. Now that slides are unnecessary we can add some slides that will actually add impact to what Barry says.
Barry had little more than bullet points and words
Bullet points have become an accepted way of displaying information in the corporate world. The trouble with bullet points is they detract from what you are saying as a presenter.
When someone is trying to listen to you, and read at the same time, they can’t do either well. The result is that your message gets lost and the audience gets tired. To correct this situation your slides should contain a minimum amount of written information.
Think of it this way: You present the information and your slides should represent visually what you are saying (note: represent visually doesn’t mean you need charts all the time. If you are discussing unhappy employees and how the new HR policy will make them happy, consider two slides that transition from an unhappy employee to a happy one.)
Don’t be a Barry… Use good presentation design… Create extremely simple slides that visually re-enforce what you are saying and the audience will love you for it.