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Making Your Slide Presentations Something That Stands Out

Slide or PowerPoint presentations have become the norm in the business and IT world because they are powerful tools to use to convey ideas. However, a lot of people fail to fully utilize this powerful tool and coherently present their idea. With 30 million presentations made each day, the costs of a bad presentation may be huge, such as the failure of an initiative or a big business deal1. Therefore, presenters must do their best to give a presentation that stands out.

The most important point to effective slide presentations is to acknowledge that the presentation is a tool for the presenter to use, and not a substitute for the presenter himself. A lot of employees think that the presentations can do the speaking for them. There is only one occasion when the PPT presentation should be able to substitute for the presenter, and that is when it will be provided as a hard-copy report to the listeners. The solution is to have the slides with all the text information marked as hidden so they do not come up in the digital presentation, but are featured in the hard copy. Not only does this look professional and well done, but the audience will leave with all the information they need so that there are no misunderstandings.

When preparing the slides, you should have the audience in mind. Choose your content and how to present it according to whether your listeners are beginners or experts, dedicated specialists or hobbyists, and their corresponding knowledge. Put yourself in their shoes and consider what would be worthwhile to watch. Another helpful question is why they are attending the presentation and what knowledge they expect to gain from it. For example, college students attending a university presentation are interested in its facilities, student funding, university image and prestige, and employment opportunities. Conversely, a business representative attending this would be interested graduate employability, staff research interests and options for collaboration.

It is important to match the presentation style to the appropriate occasion. For less formal events outside the strict business environment, building a narrative will engage the audience and some well-placed humor will help them remember the information better. Furthermore, they will see the immediate usefulness and implementation of your idea and hopefully start to apply it themselves. On the other hand, a more serious tone and lack of narrative is appropriate for more formal events, such as company meetings or presentation to sponsors. These gatherings necessitate a more objective look on all aspects of the problem at hand.

Effective use of the editing and animation functions will help your slide presentation stand out. Effective means neither too much nor too little, as both extremes can ruin a perfectly good slide. For instance, some slide transition effects might seem a bit too childish to more mature audiences. However, moving an image from one place to another can help the audience remember its positive or negative effect. Also, breaking down a list of bullet points into several slides is much more informative and pleasing to the eye.

Finally, format the presentation. Add a brief discussion or flow chart at the beginning to show the points and topics you will cover, and the main idea that you will discuss. Be sure to stress both orally and textually the important points by doing things like underlining or bolding them. Decide which points need repetition for a full understanding and consider putting questions with answers to see if the audience has full grasp of all concepts. Then, do a final check on every slide. There should be more pictures, flow-charts, and animations than text, and there shouldn’t be more than two or three sentences per slide.


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