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Create a presentation
Create a presentation in PowerPoint
Create presentations from scratch or start with a professionally designed, fully customizable template from Microsoft Create .
In the left pane, select New .
Select an option:
To create a presentation from scratch, select Blank Presentation .
To use a prepared design, select one of the templates.
To see tips for using PowerPoint, select Take a Tour , and then select Create , .
Add a slide
In the thumbnails on the left pane, select the slide you want your new slide to follow.
In the Home tab, in the Slides section, select New Slide .
In the Slides section, select Layout , and then select the layout you want from the menu.
Add and format text
Place the cursor inside a text box, and then type something.
Select the text, and then select one or more options from the Font section of the Home tab, such as Font , Increase Font Size , Decrease Font Size , Bold , Italic , Underline , etc.
To create bulleted or numbered lists, select the text, and then select Bullets or Numbering .
Add a picture, shape, and more
Go to the Insert tab.
To add a picture:
In the Images section, select Pictures .
In the Insert Picture From menu, select the source you want.
Browse for the picture you want, select it, and then select Insert .
To add illustrations:
In the Illustrations section, select Shapes , Icons , 3D Models , SmartArt , or Chart .
In the dialog box that opens when you click one of the illustration types, select the item you want and follow the prompts to insert it.
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Think Outside The Slide
Five Tips to Make PowerPoint Business Presentations More Effective
Using powerpoint in a business presentation these five tips will make your communication more effective.
It is almost expected today that you will use PowerPoint in business presentations. It can be used to add visuals to the message and is an easy way to create a leave-behind handout or e-mail the presentation to others later. But too often business presenters aren’t as effective as they could be when delivering a PowerPoint presentation. Here are five tips drawn from my training programs for making your next PowerPoint business presentation more effective.
Start with Structure First
I always start my workshops by suggesting that presenters plan their presentation on paper before they sit down at the computer. Start by defining the goal of the presentation – what you want the audience to do, feel, understand or act on when you are done. Next, describe where the audience is today in terms of their knowledge, trust of you, attitudes and roles in the organization. Once you have the starting point and destination, you can now plan the route that you will use to take the audience through your presentation. This is just like a GPS does when determining the best route from your location to a destination (my book GPS for Presentations gives the details of this approach). Using sticky notes to lay out the main ideas and supporting data is a good way to see the entire presentation at once. Now you can decide where visuals will add to your message and what those visuals should be. Here’s a video of me explaining the GPS approach in a live session.
Use Colors & Fonts that are Easy to See
You don’t need to have a graphic design background in order to design slides that are visually appealing. Decide on a simple standard look for your slides so that the audience has visual consistency throughout the presentation. Select background and text colors that have enough contrast so that the text will be easy to read. Instead of guessing at whether the colors have enough contrast, check the colors with the Color Contrast Calculator . For any text, research tells us that a sans-serif font, like Arial or Calibri, is easier to read when projected, so use one of these fonts. For font size, it depends on the size of the screen and the size of the room ( you can see a detailed chart based on visual acuity calculations here ). But if you use fonts that are 24-32 point size as a minimum, you will usually be safe.
Use Visuals Instead of Text Slides
Audiences don’t want you to read slides full of text to them – surveys show it is the most annoying thing presenters can do (here is the latest survey on what audiences tell me annoys them about PowerPoint presentations ). So use visuals instead of paragraphs of text. Use graphs to illustrate numeric data. Use diagrams to show processes or flows of information or goods. Use pictures to show a person, place or object. Use media clips to bring the views of others into your presentation. There are many more visuals that you can use. If you need a method for creating visuals, use the HVF approach in my book Select Effective Visuals . If you create financial presentations, check out this page on presenting financial information effectively and this video on the six categories of visuals that are most common in financial presentations.
Practice and Rehearse
Creating your presentation at the last minute is not a good idea because it does not allow you to practice and rehearse. Practice is when you sit with your presentation and mentally review what you are going to say and how you want the flow to work. Practice is not enough, although many presenters think it is sufficient. You must also rehearse your presentation by standing and delivering it as if it was for real. This is the only way to check your words, your visuals and whether the message is as clear as you want it to be. It is also the only way to truly check your timing to make sure you don’t run over the allotted time. Even better, record your rehearsal and use these tips to learn what you can improve when you watch the recording.
End Your Presentation with Next Steps In my opinion, the single worst way to end your presentation is with a slide that has the word “Questions???” in big bold text on it. This type of ending invites your audience to question everything you have just said and does not move them the last step towards the goal you had set for your presentation. As I have recommended to many of the presenters I have worked with, end your presentation talking about the next steps that you want the audience to take to use the information you have provided. Invite discussion of the next steps if there is time, but end with a strong call to action so the audience is clear what they are to do next. Without a call to action, the audience is likely to do nothing further, and your presentation goal will not have been achieved.
By using these five tips, your next PowerPoint business presentation will be more effective because you will provide a structure for your message and deliver it in a way that the audience will understand it. The success of your presentation is mostly determined before you ever get up to speak. Take the time to prepare using these ideas and look forward to many successful PowerPoint business presentations.
Want to learn more? When you are ready to take your PowerPoint presentation skills to the next level, check out my ThinkOutsideTheSlide online course for individual self-paced learning or my on-site customized workshops to improve the skills of your entire team.
Dave Paradi has over twenty-two years of experience delivering customized training workshops to help business professionals improve their presentations. He has written ten books and over 600 articles on the topic of effective presentations and his ideas have appeared in publications around the world . His focus is on helping corporate professionals visually communicate the messages in their data so they don’t overwhelm and confuse executives. Dave is one of fewer than ten people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams communities. His articles and videos on virtual presenting have been viewed over 3.5 million times and liked over 14,000 times on YouTube.
By Dave Paradi
Dave Paradi has over twenty-two years of experience delivering customized training workshops to help business professionals improve their presentations. He has written ten books and over 600 articles on the topic of effective presentations and his ideas have appeared in publications around the world . His focus is on helping corporate professionals visually communicate the messages in their data so they don't overwhelm and confuse executives. Dave is one of fewer than ten people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams communities. His articles and videos on virtual presenting have been viewed over 3.5 million times and liked over 14,000 times on YouTube.
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- Microsoft PowerPoint
How to Make Professional PowerPoint Presentations (With PPT Templates) + Video
Are you anxious about preparing for an upcoming presentation? You need to present something professionally to gain your audience's trust. Maybe you're using it for a breakthrough in your career.
If you're short on time, this tutorial is the perfect way to get going. I'll share some of my favorite tried and true professional PowerPoint tips. They'll show you how to create presentations. Then, we'll walk through building one together using a professional PPT theme.
Inspiring speakers practice and learn their craft. A big part of this is having a professional PowerPoint theme design . A professional design helps you feel confident about your content, such as one of these:
Guide to Making Great Presentations (Free eBook Download)
Before you read on, be sure to grab our free eBook: The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations . It'll help you master the presentation process. It takes you from initial idea through to writing, design, and delivering with impact.
Now, let's jump into a few quick techniques that'll help up your presentation results. Then, learn how to build a professional PowerPoint presentation quickly using a template.
How to Quickly Make Professional PowerPoint Presentations With PPT Templates (Video)
Are you ready to start learning how to make a professional PowerPoint using a template? Watch this quick video to find out what you need to know to get started on creating your own professional PowerPoint:
Professional PowerPoint Templates on Envato Elements (With Unlimited Use)
In this tutorial, you're going to learn the secret to professional presentations: you don't have to do all the work.
That's right. The pressure is off. We're going to use a professional presentation template instead of starting from scratch.
Your ticket to creating a professional presentation is to join Envato Elements. It includes the best ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">professional presentation templates. The flat-rate subscription unlocks unlimited assets, including top designs for professional presentations. It's a shortcut to learn how to make a business presentation on PowerPoint.
That's right: you don't have to know how to make professional PPT slides all on your own. A template gives you everything you need. It's a blueprint for success with every placeholder and content block you need. You just open it up and fill it in.
Instead of buying a single PowerPoint theme, subscribe to Elements. Choose from thousands of PPT template designs, web themes, professional graphics, and more. Download as many as you want for one low price.
Now, let's walk through building a professional PowerPoint presentation from a PPT template.
How to Make a Professional Presentation in PowerPoint Quickly
You don't have to be an expert to make an amazing professional presentation of your own. The best way is to use a template from Envato Elements. You can customize these in only five quick steps.
For this mini-tutorial, we’ll use the ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Professional PowerPoint Template from Envato Elements.
It’s a versatile, modern template for all your project needs. This ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">professional presentation template saves you so much time. Download it and follow along with our tutorial. Let's get started:
1. Select Your Slides
A professional presentation template like this includes dozens of slides. Odds are, you won’t need to use every single one. Working in PowerPoint, go to the View tab and click on Slide Sorter .
Here, click and drag slide thumbnails to rearrange their sequence. You can also right-click on them and choose Delete Slide to remove unwanted layouts. When you’re finished, click Normal on the View tab to start editing.
2. Customize Text
Any professional presentation will include plenty of text. To customize the text in this template, you can work with the built-in text placeholders. To start, click into any text box. Then, press Ctrl + A ( Cmd + A on Mac) to select all the text inside.
Then, start typing in your own content. The placeholder text will vanish, replaced by the words you type in. Repeat throughout your slide deck, and you’ll be on the way to a professional presentation in no time.
3. Insert Images
No professional presentation is complete without some images. These are easy to insert. Find a slide like this with an image placeholder on it.
Then, browse to an image file stored on your computer. Drag it over the placeholder and drop it into place. PowerPoint will import the image onto the slide, already sized and scaled perfectly.
Looking for beautiful images to use? As an Envato Elements member, you've got access to ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">millions of stunning stock photos included at no extra cost.
4. Build Infographics
Infographics help you illustrate ideas. Plus, they look great and are sure to impress a professional audience. Templates like this help you add infographics to your professional presentation in seconds.
Infographics work like any other slide in the presentation. Replace the text with words and numbers of your own, click and drag to move objects around, and more. It only takes a few clicks, but it helps guarantee you a successful presentation.
5. Change Shape Colors
A pre-built template will include its own default color palette. But you can easily change out individual parts of it. With a shape selected, find the Shape Format tab on PowerPoint’s ribbon.
There, click on the Shape Fill dropdown. You’ll see a color chooser menu appear. Browse the theme colors, along with gradients and more. Click on any color to apply it to your shape.
5 Quick-Fire Tips for More Professional Presentations
Let's start off by reviewing five of my favorite professional PowerPoint presentation tips. These are great reminders to start with when you're preparing to speak.
1. Practice Really Does Make Perfect
Practice makes perfect It's a well-known piece of advice for a reason. A well-rehearsed presentation helps you come across confidently and resonate with the audience.
Not all practice is created equally though. Here are professional PowerPoint presentation practice tips:
- If possible, rehearse in the same room that you plan to present in. This gives you a sense of familiarity for your presentation.
- Use speaker notes in PowerPoint to keep your key talking points in view while presenting.
- Use a cell phone to record an audience perspective on your presentation. It helps you understand how you'll appear to your audience.
2. Stick to "One Big Idea"
Many presentations will overwhelm you with data and details. In an attempt to persuade, presenters include too many reasons and talking points.
By the time the presentation reaches its conclusion, your audience may be so overwhelmed with ideas that they'll have missed your most important points.
As a presenter, it's your job to be clear. Stick to the key idea that you're presenting to make sure that your audience doesn't get lost in the details.
3. Don't be Afraid to BLUF
Sharing a big idea is important, but where you put it is also essential. That's why you should put your Bottom Line Up Front , also known as the BLUF principle. Put the bottom line (the key idea) near the beginning of your presentation.
Books and movies take you through a journey that ends with a conclusion. Presentations should give you the answer up front and explain that conclusion with the following slides.
The BLUF principle reminds me to cut to the chase when sharing the most important part of a presentation. Get straight to the heart of the message before your audience is distracted or exhausts their limited supply of attention.
4. Include Professional Presentation Graphics
For professional presentations, your audience might be more analytical than the average viewer. They're more inclined to view PowerPoint charts and graphs and derive meaning from them than talking points.
Graphics and charts are the quickest way to convey a point. Consider using bar charts and line graphs to show trends and key statistics that reinforce your point.
For more bite-sized tips on how to give great presentations, check out Brad Smith's tutorial below. It's got tons of other professional PowerPoint tips. I often read these before I start building a presentation to put good presentation ideas in my short-term memory bank:
5. Use Presenter View
My final tip is one that enables every other professional PowerPoint presentation tip we've already shared. By using Presenter View, you'll have a view of all the key tools and features in a single view. That means you'll have your speaker notes, a preview of the next slide, and a timer that helps you stay on track.
Most presentations are delivered in rooms with more than one screen. Presenter View shows your presentation on one screen that your audience sees. On the second screen, you'll see helpful information to presenters.
To turn on Presenter View , jump to the Slide Show tab, and make sure that Use Presenter View is ticked. When you start to present, you'll see two different views.
In Presenter View , keep your eye on a few key features as you can see in the screenshot below. Speaker notes live on the right side and help cue up your key talking points. The next slide preview is also a great prompt to help you direct your speaking flow. And finally, don't forget to keep an eye on the timer to stay on track.
Check out the tutorial below to start making the most of Presenter View:
The Shortcut to Making Professional PowerPoint Presentations
Even if you know exactly what you want to say, building out the supporting PowerPoint slide designs is a serious effort. Opening the app and starting off with blank slides is a major challenge.
Time is always short when preparing for a presentation. Don't build something from scratch or use a limited built-in PowerPoint theme. Instead, use ga-analytics#sendMarketClickEvent">professional PowerPoint templates. You can buy and download these Premium designs, then add your own content to them quickly:
The real value of these pro PPT templates is the presentation slide design ideas that they include. Use those pre-built designs for ideas of how to present your own content.
In this tutorial, I use the ga-analytics#sendMarketClickEvent">Motagua PowerPoint theme . This is the all-time best-selling presentation theme on GraphicRiver, and it's easy to see why. It's packed with a great looking set of PowerPoint slide designs, which you can work with quickly.
How to Make a Professional PowerPoint Presentation (With a PPT Template)
For this example, we're going to pretend that we're building a slide deck to encourage someone to invest in our company. This could be for your startup company or even for a small, local business to get things off the ground.
Professionalism matters when you're asking for funding. I'm going to highlight five key slide designs that you'll find in decks like these. Even if your presentation idea is totally unrelated, these ideas might help you design your own.
1. Introduce Your Team
It's often said that investors invest in teams, not products. While both are required to secure financing for your idea, the point is that investors often focus on the team and their background.
To do this, I'm going to recommend Motagua slide design #77 . This is a slide with four placeholders for your team's photo and descriptions.
I almost always recommend that a presentation about a product or service includes the team. Build that level of comfort with your audience so that they'll think of you first when they're ready to invest or buy.
It's not about where your product or service has been, but where it's going. If you're expecting investment or growth in your business, the investors are betting that the future holds more promise than the present.
One idea for showing this visually is to use slide design #149, which is an Arrows Infographic . This is a nice-looking design with many points for how your product may evolve.
This is a general-purpose slide that could be used for showing any key points about your business. But the numbers make it ideal for showing a progression. Sharing the vision for your product near the beginning of the presentation is a great application of the BLUF mindset.
3. Show Key Statistics in Data With Charts
For startups, one of the most important things to show is your company growth with good data. For businesses that aren't yet earning revenue, investors are betting that a large userbase will eventually lead to customers.
A chart is a great way to tell a story without any bullet points involved. For the analytical minds in the audience, a well-placed chart may be the "aha!" moment that they need to see your vision.
Slide design 138 has overlapping circles that you can show the opportunity for your startup. Use the smallest circle to show your current revenue base. Larger circles can show the potential if you expand to a new market or develop new products.
If your idea hasn't even started yet, consider showing statistics or data on how the need for your product is growing. You could include data about the size of the potential customer base, or the growth of similar services.
4. Use Graphic Timelines to Illustrate the Future
Again, investing in a business is all about the future. A timeline can illustrate not only the history of a product, but the future development timeline of the features you plan to add.
Slide 60 is the perfect way to show the road map for the product. You can use the points to illustrate new features you've recently added or plan to add in the future.
5. Make Your "Ask" Clear
You've built up a vision and you're ready to reach a major conclusion. This could be the make or break moment to inspire action in your audience.
For our example, let's assume that you're going to ask for investment in your company. Near the end of a presentation, you could use a simple slide design like 21 to make the fundraising goal clear.
For startups, this is often expressed as "$x at $x valuation." This means that a company raising $1 million wants to be valued as being worth as $10 million, effectively giving 10% of the company to investors.
If you're building a persuasive presentation that's designed to inspire action, you've got to make your "ask" clear. What are you asking the audience to do, if anything?
5 Professional PowerPoint PPT Templates From Envato Elements
We've already checked out GraphicRiver, the pay-as-you-go option to source professional PowerPoint presentation templates. But there's another solution that gives you even more creative freedom to source unlimited presentation designs: ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Envato Elements.
If you want to learn how to make a PowerPoint look professional, studying templates and borrowing the best elements from each one is surefire solution.
Let's check out five of my favorite professional presentation templates from Elements below:
1. ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Project Professional PowerPoint Template
Managing projects is a key part of most professional careers. When you're showing off your project to key decision makers, it's crucial that you build a professional presentation. This template helps you capture just that, showcasing key project steps that can help you win the support of your peers.
2. ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Business PowerPoint Presentation
One of my favorite professional PowerPoint tips is to use the same template in all your presentations. This helps you develop a consistent design style that your audience will recognize. Use a flexible template with plenty of versatility like this one for exactly that purpose.
3. ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Skyfy Professional PowerPoint
Even a professional presentation can have a slick and modern design style. Skyfy is a great choice for professional presentations that show off creative companies, like design agencies, video production studios, photographers, and more.
4. ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Melbourne Professional PowerPoint Presentation
Melbourne is a clear and clean professional PowerPoint template that any business could use. With a few simple tweaks to the color scheme and placeholders, you can use Melbourne to put your business idea in a beautiful format.
5. ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Pitch Volume 3 - Professional PowerPoint Template
A pitch deck is a special type of template that entrepreneurs and startup companies will use to get their idea off the ground. A pitch deck has some specifics to it that great templates like Pitch Volume 3 captures perfectly. Drop in your new company concept to launch your new venture into the future.
For even more professional template options, jump over to our guide, 22+ Professional PowerPoint Templates: For Better Business Presentations .
Where to Find the Best Professional Presentation Templates in 2021 (Envato Elements vs GraphicRiver)
Envato Elements and GraphicRiver both offer stunning ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">professional presentation templates with ga-analytics#sendMarketClickEvent">compelling designs for presentations . They're your best resource in 2021. But which site should you choose? What are the benefits of each? Let's take a look:
1. Key Benefits of Envato Elements
Envato Elements has an unbeatable offer: unlimited downloads. As a member, you pay a flat monthly rate. With it, you can download as many presentation templates as you want.
Elements also offers a wide variety of creative assets. You’ll find music, stock photos, fonts, and more that you can use in presentations and other projects. They're all included in your membership.
Here are the ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">top professional PowerPoint decks available on Envato Elements:
2. Key Benefits of GraphicRiver
GraphicRiver is a top resource for professional PowerPoint slide decks and other assets. It’s part of Envato Market, which serves the needs of creatives everywhere.
GraphicRiver has a pay-as-you-go model. That means you buy individual templates, with no subscription needed. It's great if you're on a budget, or only need one file.
Here are the top ga-analytics#sendMarketClickEvent">professional PowerPoint templates on GraphicRiver today:
Which Site is Best for You?
Maybe you build professional presentations often. Or perhaps you're undecided about your favorite style. Envato Elements offers the flexibility you need. Sign up for ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">Envato Elements today .
If you only need one ga-analytics#sendMarketClickEvent">professional presentation template for your presentation, jump over to GraphicRiver and find one now.
Learn More About Using PowerPoint Professionally
If you need more ideas on how to build out a better PowerPoint presentation, check out these guides as well, or download our free eBook that follows:
Need Help? Grab Our Making Great Presentations eBook (Free)
You can find more information in our eBook on making great presentations . Download this PDF eBook now for FREE with your subscription to the Tuts+ Business Newsletter.
It'll help you master the presentation process, from: initial creative ideas, through to writing, design, and delivering with impact.
Go Design Your Professional Presentation Today
You've just learned how to make a professional presentation using some of my favorite professional PowerPoint presentation tips. My top tip for how to make a professional presentation will always be to ga-analytics#sendElementsClickEvent">source templates from sites like Envato Elements and ga-analytics#sendMarketClickEvent">GraphicRiver . It skips you ahead in the process and helps you build the perfect presentation.
What are your best tips for creating a professional PowerPoint presentation ? Let me know in the comments section.
Editorial Note : This tutorial was originally published in April of 2019. I t's been comprehensively revised to include new information—with special help and a new video from Andrew Childress .
- Hubspot Blog
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How to Make a Business Presentation in 7 Easy Steps [Free Business Presentation Templates]
Updated: May 02, 2022
Published: September 11, 2019
There’s a reason many people despise public speaking. Defining your presentation style , putting together engaging slides, getting your point across clearly, handling unexpected questions, and squeezing a laugh out of the audience is a lot to consider.
Still, nearly all of us have to give business presentations every so often — especially salespeople . And the most daunting part of preparing for any presentation is that there’s always room to improve.
Even the most seasoned speakers headlining at conferences or reps who top the leaderboard every month can improve their storytelling, deliver their message more clearly, and perfect their physicality. And so can you.
There are an infinite number of presentation tips out there, so we’ve distilled the vast pool of tips down to what will make the biggest impact on your presentation — and we’ve left you with actionable takeaways you can apply to your presentations today.
How to Make a Business Presentation
1. make a plan.
Things won’t go according to plan if you don’t even have a plan in the first place. Before building your slide deck , create an outline that includes the main points and pieces of evidence you want to get across.
This outline will act as your anchor while you build a slide deck and give your presentation, pointing you toward the key arguments you know you need to touch on.
I like to start with the bare bones: introductory remarks , the three points I hope my audience remembers from my talk, and concluding remarks. Then, I add sub-points to each of those three points that comprise the meat of my presentation.
These bullet points become helpful later, too, when I’m putting together my slides. They show me how much material I have on each takeaway, which allows me to split my content into the appropriate number of slides.
A well-delivered, memorable introduction and conclusion are essential ingredients of a presentation. Don’t overlook them in your outline.
Even a couple of quick bullet points on exactly what you plan to cover in each will help you set an engaging, confident tone at the start and wrap up in a way that helps your material stick in your audience’s mind.
2. Choose a slide deck
Select a slide deck that matches the tone of your presentation. There are three primary factors that can influence your deck style:
- The formality of your workplace . A good litmus test is your company’s dress code. For example, if you wear business formal attire to work, stick with a slide deck with neutral colors like navy, white, grey, and black, and keep your fonts sharp. If your workplace is more casual or prizes creativity over ceremony, consider a more colorful deck, but keep it to two to three complementary colors to avoid creating slides that are too busy.If you’re looking for a slide deck that’s creative but not overwhelming, consider something like this ( you can download this slide deck template for free here ):
- The content you’re presenting. Serious research and financial data, for example, are suited for more professional decks. Informal recaps, brainstorms, and planning sessions may give you more bandwidth to use brighter colors.Here’s an example of a slide that would be well-suited for data:
Download the Slide Deck Template for Free
- Your personal brand . If you’re known at work for your sense of humor or your GIF reaction time on Slack, you’ll be able to get away with a more friendly font and colorful template. If you lean into professionalism and want to express rigor in your analysis or ideas, select a deck with few distractions — keep the colors neutral.
We had our designers here put together a set of free business presentation templates that you can start using today.
3. Lead with a story and a laugh
One of the reasons it’s so easy to get wrapped up in TED Talks for hours on end is that nearly every presenter begins with a compelling story.
Whether it’s the harrowing tale of a near-death experience or a heartwarming recap of the speaker’s daughter’s first day of preschool, a great story engages the audience’s attention. It should also allow the speaker to build a personal connection with listeners and serve as a memorable cornerstone of the presentation.
When possible, begin your presentations with a story. The key, once you’ve shared your story, is to succinctly tie its main point back to the focus of your presentation.
Don’t feel you must tell a story that’s groundbreaking or unique — in fact, relatable stories will be most effective at breaking through to your audience.
For example, a marketing director at HubSpot recently began a presentation about her team’s redesign project by sharing a personal anecdote about her struggles clearing weeds in her garden.
Finally, add humor where it feels natural. Getting a laugh out of your audience within the first minute will put them at ease and set a positive tone for the information they’re about to take in.
4. Add verbal signposts
One of the best pieces of presentation advice I’ve ever gotten came from a college professor who believed our brains needed what he called “signposts”: verbal cues that could stick in an audience’s mind even as the details slipped away.
He challenged us to distill our presentations down to three key takeaways and come up with one-to-three-word phrases that represented each point. Then, we were to reference those three cues or signposts in our introduction — just before diving into their details — and once again at the end.
If there were slides involved, he also had us select a simple image for each signpost that would be repeated throughout the deck.
Here’s an example: if you were giving a presentation pitching a website redesign, you might talk about all of the benefits a redesign would bring. Your website would be more visually consistent with your brand, the user experience would vastly improve, and you’d improve loading time to boost your search rankings.
The signposts for this presentation might be:
- Brand Consistency
- Improved UX
Even if the audience forgot the mechanics of how each of these areas would improve with the redesign, they would walk away with three easy-to-remember phrases that summarized the value of your proposed project.
Since taking that professor’s class, I’ve watched and created presentations completely differently. I always look for a speaker’s signposts and incorporate my own into every presentation I build. Signposts help me retain more material and communicate my points more directly.
5. Rely on images and charts rather than text and tables
Humans process images faster than text. And, as a speaker, it’s a disconcerting experience to see your audience squinting their eyes as they try to make out a hundred tiny words or numbers on your slides, scribbling down as much information as they can before you skip to the next section.
To avoid this issue, rely on images whenever possible. Keep the attention on you, the expert, by selecting an image or two to drive home your point. Don’t try to squeeze all of your information on a single slide.
6. Incorporate audience interaction
We all dread sitting through boring presentations. And no matter how experienced a speaker you are, there’s inevitably going to be a low-energy point of your talk during your first dry run.
To keep the energy up, add in a quick moment of audience interaction. There are many different ways to re-engage listeners with participation:
- Quiz them and have them raise their hands to vote on options.
- Ask a question.
- Have them turn to a neighbor and share one reaction to what they just heard.
- Have people stand up momentarily if they agree with a given statement.
Movement will engage attention in a new way and refresh the energy of the room, carrying you through to the end of the presentation.
7. Hold a couple of non-essential data points until the Q&A at the end
You will always want to use adequate data to make a business case and provide a meaningful, truthful presentation. However, it’s okay if you’re not able to fit every detail into your presentation.
In fact, if you intend to hold a question and answer session at the end of the presentation , leaving a couple of interesting but non-essential data points out during the presentation can give you impressive material to work with during the Q&A.
Anticipate several questions you’re likely to get or have a colleague watch a practice run-through and come up with three questions for you. Then, choose a couple of pieces of evidence not included on the slides themselves and have them in your mental back pocket to support your answers.
Data always speaks more loudly than statements that don’t have a specific piece of evidence behind them. Remember, you’re an expert on your presentation topic — and additional, specific points can only help you when it comes to demonstrating your expertise.
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How Is Microsoft PowerPoint Used in Business?
- Small Business
- Advertising & Marketing
- Business Requirements
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Embedding a powerpoint slide into outlook email, what are benefits of powerpoint.
- How to Remove a Hidden Footer From Microsoft PowerPoint
- Ways to Promote Your Business Presentation Slide
If your company’s use of the Microsoft Office suite is limited to Word for typing and Excel for calculations, you may be missing out on another part of the package – PowerPoint. Businesses use Microsoft PowerPoint to streamline their presentation creation efforts, but the software can help with a variety of other tasks as well. Whether you’re getting ready to perform a new hire training, report financials or conduct an end of the year summary, let PowerPoint join your team.
Getting the Point Across
The main purpose businesses find for PowerPoint is the software’s ability to house pieces of data, or “points.” Whether you have a couple of bullets or hundreds of slides’ worth of information, you can easily transfer that information from your mind or your company’s subject matter expert and onto the screen. Through the PowerPoint interface, you type bullet points of details – an endless array of formatting options is available – and can customize the data. For example, if you’re required to submit a 100-slide PowerPoint presentation to one requestor and a 10-slide presentation to another, you can reuse the data by simply shuffling the PowerPoint slide deck and pulling only what you need.
Relieve your employees of the burden of creating business forms such as invoices, labels and fliers by tapping into PowerPoint’s templates collection. Found by clicking the “New” option on the File tab you can browse through hundreds of pre-made templates – and download thousands of others – to get up and running on business documents quickly. You can use these templates to focus your staffs' energies where it counts, on the hard-core data and information, instead of worrying about setup. Although the templates come pre-designed, you can also edit and tweak them in countless ways so they fit your business perfectly. Tasks such as adding a logo to the corner of a PowerPoint slide, reformatting the fonts so they match the ones in your logo or changing template colors take just a couple of clicks.
Breaking Out of the Office
In a traditional PowerPoint presentation, a speaker stands in front of a live audience and clicks a button to manually move the PowerPoint from slide to slide. Your business can tap into PowerPoint to expand far outside your brick-and-mortar walls to reach customers, potential clients and even recruit new personnel as far as you prefer. With a PowerPoint you can break out of the office by broadcasting your presentation live through an Internet host, email the file or save it to a USB drive, present it live, collaborate through an online meeting, or combine all of these until the slides on your screen are beamed to those who need to view them.
A PowerPoint slide, when you open the program, is like a big blank slate. Even if your company prefers to focus on text for its presentations, you’ve got a large array of graphic design options at your fingertips when you use the software. Slightly hidden on the “Insert” tab are options such as the “Scribble” tool, where you can draw freehand, as well as PowerPoint’s clip art collection. You can import your own graphics such as company logos or product pictures through this tab as well, which is ideal for illustrating and customizing presentations.
- Whitman College: Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 Helpers
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Fionia LeChat is a technical writer whose major skill sets include the MS Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher), Photoshop, Paint, desktop publishing, design and graphics. LeChat has a Master of Science in technical writing, a Master of Arts in public relations and communications and a Bachelor of Arts in writing/English.
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This course is part of the Data Analysis and Presentation Skills: the PwC Approach Specialization
Effective Business Presentations with Powerpoint
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About this Course
This course is all about presenting the story of the data, using PowerPoint. You'll learn how to structure a presentation, to include insights and supporting data. You'll also learn some design principles for effective visuals and slides. You'll gain skills for client-facing communication - including public speaking, executive presence and compelling storytelling. Finally, you'll be given a client profile, a business problem, and a set of basic Excel charts, which you'll need to turn into a presentation - which you'll deliver with iterative peer feedback.
This course was created by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP with an address at 300 Madison Avenue, New York, New York, 10017.
Skills you will gain
- Data Analysis
- Presentation Design
With offices in 157 countries and more than 208,000 people, PwC is among the leading professional services networks in the world. Our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We help organisations and individuals create the value they’re looking for, by delivering quality in assurance, tax and advisory services.
Syllabus - What you will learn from this course
Preparing a presentation.
This course is about presenting the story of the data, using PowerPoint. You'll learn how to structure a presentation and how to include insights and supporting data. You'll also learn some design principles for creating effective PowerPoint slides with visuals displaying data. Though application based exercises, you'll gain foundational communication skills - including public speaking, professional presence and compelling storytelling. Finally, you'll be given a client profile, a business problem, and a set of basic Excel charts, that you will use to create a presentation. You’ll receive peer feedback that you can use to enhance future presentations. This course was created by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP with an address at 300 Madison Avenue, New York, New York, 10017
This week, we will be covering the different types of communications styles. You’ll start off by gaining an understanding of your personal professional presence and learn how to maximize it. You’ll learn about verbal and nonverbal communications, and strategies to enhance your questioning and listening skills. We will also discuss how differences in culture can impact how you communicate.
Creating effective slides using PowerPoint
This week, we're discussing how to create effective slides using PowerPoint. You’ll learn about the tools available within PowerPoint, how to structure your storyline, create storyboards, identify primary elements of slide design, display data and finalize your slide presentation. There is a peer review activity where you will apply the skills learned and create a storyboard. Finally, you will also get a chance to identify errors in a presentation to test your knowledge of standard industry practices.
Delivering a presentation
This week, you’re going to build and deliver a presentation to your peers, and receive feedback from them. You will create a presentation of about 10 slides, employing the guidelines and industry best practices that have been discussed in this course. You can use the presentation storyboard that you created last week, which your peers have reviewed and given you feedback on. Review what you’ve developed so far, and make changes or additions that you think will enhance the presentation. Once you’ve finalized your presentation, you will present it in a video using your smartphone or computer.
Once you’re satisfied with the PowerPoint presentation and video, you will be submitting both for peer review. You can use this feedback for current and future presentations that you will make during your career.
- 5 stars 71.08%
- 4 stars 19.43%
- 3 stars 4.83%
- 2 stars 1.93%
- 1 star 2.70%
TOP REVIEWS FROM EFFECTIVE BUSINESS PRESENTATIONS WITH POWERPOINT
Cours à la hauteur ! il m'a permis de penser autrement donc mes prochaines présentations seront plus organisées , cadrées, et ciblées .
Merci Coursera !
Crisp and Precise. Provides actionable insights. If you want to be an effective presenter, this is THE COURSE. A BIG thanks to PWC and team Coursera for making this AMAZING course available.
I had an amazing experience doing this course. It brought me more clarity to my presentation approach. The course instructors are very enthusiastic and motivating.
This course was interesting to understand verbal and non verbal skills. Furthermore it helps to have an scketch to prepare a successful presentation
About the Data Analysis and Presentation Skills: the PwC Approach Specialization
If you are a PwC Employee, gain access to the PwC Specialization and Courses for free using the instructions on Vantage.
This Specialization will help you get practical with data analysis, turning business intelligence into real-world outcomes. We'll explore how a combination of better understanding, filtering, and application of data can help you solve problems faster - leading to smarter and more effective decision-making. You’ll learn how to use Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and other common data analysis and communication tools, and perhaps most importantly, we'll help you to present data to others in a way that gets them engaged in your story and motivated to act. Please note: If you'd like to audit the courses in this Specialization, you'll need to enroll in each course separately and then you will see the audit option. This specialization was created by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP with an address at 300 Madison Avenue, New York, New York, 10017.
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How to Give a Killer Presentation
- Chris Anderson
For more than 30 years, the TED conference series has presented enlightening talks that people enjoy watching. In this article, Anderson, TED’s curator, shares five keys to great presentations:
- Frame your story (figure out where to start and where to end).
- Plan your delivery (decide whether to memorize your speech word for word or develop bullet points and then rehearse it—over and over).
- Work on stage presence (but remember that your story matters more than how you stand or whether you’re visibly nervous).
- Plan the multimedia (whatever you do, don’t read from PowerPoint slides).
- Put it together (play to your strengths and be authentic).
According to Anderson, presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance—not style. In fact, it’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. So if your thinking is not there yet, he advises, decline that invitation to speak. Instead, keep working until you have an idea that’s worth sharing.
Lessons from TED
A little more than a year ago, on a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, some colleagues and I met a 12-year-old Masai boy named Richard Turere, who told us a fascinating story. His family raises livestock on the edge of a vast national park, and one of the biggest challenges is protecting the animals from lions—especially at night. Richard had noticed that placing lamps in a field didn’t deter lion attacks, but when he walked the field with a torch, the lions stayed away. From a young age, he’d been interested in electronics, teaching himself by, for example, taking apart his parents’ radio. He used that experience to devise a system of lights that would turn on and off in sequence—using solar panels, a car battery, and a motorcycle indicator box—and thereby create a sense of movement that he hoped would scare off the lions. He installed the lights, and the lions stopped attacking. Soon villages elsewhere in Kenya began installing Richard’s “lion lights.”
The story was inspiring and worthy of the broader audience that our TED conference could offer, but on the surface, Richard seemed an unlikely candidate to give a TED Talk. He was painfully shy. His English was halting. When he tried to describe his invention, the sentences tumbled out incoherently. And frankly, it was hard to imagine a preteenager standing on a stage in front of 1,400 people accustomed to hearing from polished speakers such as Bill Gates, Sir Ken Robinson, and Jill Bolte Taylor.
But Richard’s story was so compelling that we invited him to speak. In the months before the 2013 conference, we worked with him to frame his story—to find the right place to begin and to develop a succinct and logical arc of events. On the back of his invention Richard had won a scholarship to one of Kenya’s best schools, and there he had the chance to practice the talk several times in front of a live audience. It was critical that he build his confidence to the point where his personality could shine through. When he finally gave his talk at TED , in Long Beach, you could tell he was nervous, but that only made him more engaging— people were hanging on his every word . The confidence was there, and every time Richard smiled, the audience melted. When he finished, the response was instantaneous: a sustained standing ovation.
Since the first TED conference, 30 years ago, speakers have run the gamut from political figures, musicians, and TV personalities who are completely at ease before a crowd to lesser-known academics, scientists, and writers—some of whom feel deeply uncomfortable giving presentations. Over the years, we’ve sought to develop a process for helping inexperienced presenters to frame, practice, and deliver talks that people enjoy watching. It typically begins six to nine months before the event, and involves cycles of devising (and revising) a script, repeated rehearsals, and plenty of fine-tuning. We’re continually tweaking our approach—because the art of public speaking is evolving in real time—but judging by public response, our basic regimen works well: Since we began putting TED Talks online, in 2006, they’ve been viewed more than one billion times.
On the basis of this experience, I’m convinced that giving a good talk is highly coachable. In a matter of hours, a speaker’s content and delivery can be transformed from muddled to mesmerizing. And while my team’s experience has focused on TED’s 18-minutes-or-shorter format, the lessons we’ve learned are surely useful to other presenters—whether it’s a CEO doing an IPO road show, a brand manager unveiling a new product, or a start-up pitching to VCs.
Frame Your Story
There’s no way you can give a good talk unless you have something worth talking about . Conceptualizing and framing what you want to say is the most vital part of preparation.
Find the Perfect Mix of Data and Narrative
by Nancy Duarte
Most presentations lie somewhere on the continuum between a report and a story. A report is data-rich, exhaustive, and informative—but not very engaging. Stories help a speaker connect with an audience, but listeners often want facts and information, too. Great presenters layer story and information like a cake and understand that different types of talks require differing ingredients.
From Report . . .
(literal, informational, factual, exhaustive).
Research findings. If your goal is to communicate information from a written report, send the full document to the audience in advance, and limit the presentation to key takeaways. Don’t do a long slide show that repeats all your findings. Anyone who’s really interested can read the report; everyone else will appreciate brevity.
Financial presentation. Financial audiences love data, and they’ll want the details. Satisfy their analytical appetite with facts, but add a thread of narrative to appeal to their emotional side. Then present the key takeaways visually, to help them find meaning in the numbers.
Product launch. Instead of covering only specs and features, focus on the value your product brings to the world. Tell stories that show how real people will use it and why it will change their lives.
VC pitch. For 30 minutes with a VC, prepare a crisp, well-structured story arc that conveys your idea compellingly in 10 minutes or less; then let Q&A drive the rest of the meeting. Anticipate questions and rehearse clear and concise answers.
Keynote address. Formal talks at big events are high-stakes, high-impact opportunities to take your listeners on a transformative journey. Use a clear story framework and aim to engage them emotionally.
. . . to Story
(dramatic, experiential, evocative, persuasive).
Nancy Duarte is the author of HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations , Slide:ology , and Resonate . She is the CEO of Duarte, Inc., which designs presentations and teaches presentation development.
We all know that humans are wired to listen to stories, and metaphors abound for the narrative structures that work best to engage people. When I think about compelling presentations, I think about taking an audience on a journey. A successful talk is a little miracle—people see the world differently afterward.
If you frame the talk as a journey, the biggest decisions are figuring out where to start and where to end. To find the right place to start, consider what people in the audience already know about your subject—and how much they care about it. If you assume they have more knowledge or interest than they do, or if you start using jargon or get too technical, you’ll lose them. The most engaging speakers do a superb job of very quickly introducing the topic, explaining why they care so deeply about it, and convincing the audience members that they should, too.
The biggest problem I see in first drafts of presentations is that they try to cover too much ground. You can’t summarize an entire career in a single talk. If you try to cram in everything you know, you won’t have time to include key details, and your talk will disappear into abstract language that may make sense if your listeners are familiar with the subject matter but will be completely opaque if they’re new to it. You need specific examples to flesh out your ideas. So limit the scope of your talk to that which can be explained, and brought to life with examples, in the available time. Much of the early feedback we give aims to correct the impulse to sweep too broadly. Instead, go deeper. Give more detail. Don’t tell us about your entire field of study—tell us about your unique contribution.
A successful talk is a little miracle—people see the world differently afterward.
Of course, it can be just as damaging to overexplain or painstakingly draw out the implications of a talk. And there the remedy is different: Remember that the people in the audience are intelligent. Let them figure some things out for themselves. Let them draw their own conclusions.
Many of the best talks have a narrative structure that loosely follows a detective story. The speaker starts out by presenting a problem and then describes the search for a solution. There’s an “aha” moment, and the audience’s perspective shifts in a meaningful way.
If a talk fails, it’s almost always because the speaker didn’t frame it correctly, misjudged the audience’s level of interest, or neglected to tell a story. Even if the topic is important, random pontification without narrative is always deeply unsatisfying. There’s no progression, and you don’t feel that you’re learning.
I was at an energy conference recently where two people—a city mayor and a former governor—gave back-to-back talks. The mayor’s talk was essentially a list of impressive projects his city had undertaken. It came off as boasting, like a report card or an advertisement for his reelection. It quickly got boring. When the governor spoke, she didn’t list achievements; instead, she shared an idea. Yes, she recounted anecdotes from her time in office, but the idea was central—and the stories explanatory or illustrative (and also funny). It was so much more interesting. The mayor’s underlying point seemed to be how great he was, while the governor’s message was “Here’s a compelling idea that would benefit us all.”
Storytelling That Moves People
As a general rule, people are not very interested in talks about organizations or institutions (unless they’re members of them). Ideas and stories fascinate us; organizations bore us—they’re much harder to relate to. (Businesspeople especially take note: Don’t boast about your company; rather, tell us about the problem you’re solving.)
Plan Your Delivery
Once you’ve got the framing down, it’s time to focus on your delivery . There are three main ways to deliver a talk. You can read it directly off a script or a teleprompter. You can develop a set of bullet points that map out what you’re going to say in each section rather than scripting the whole thing word for word. Or you can memorize your talk, which entails rehearsing it to the point where you internalize every word—verbatim.
My advice: Don’t read it, and don’t use a teleprompter. It’s usually just too distancing—people will know you’re reading. And as soon as they sense it, the way they receive your talk will shift. Suddenly your intimate connection evaporates, and everything feels a lot more formal. We generally outlaw reading approaches of any kind at TED, though we made an exception a few years ago for a man who insisted on using a monitor. We set up a screen at the back of the auditorium, in the hope that the audience wouldn’t notice it. At first he spoke naturally. But soon he stiffened up, and you could see this horrible sinking feeling pass through the audience as people realized, “Oh, no, he’s reading to us!” The words were great, but the talk got poor ratings.
Many of our best and most popular TED Talks have been memorized word for word. If you’re giving an important talk and you have the time to do this, it’s the best way to go. But don’t underestimate the work involved. One of our most memorable speakers was Jill Bolte Taylor , a brain researcher who had suffered a stroke. She talked about what she learned during the eight years it took her to recover. After crafting her story and undertaking many hours of solo practice, she rehearsed her talk dozens of times in front of an audience to be sure she had it down.
Obviously, not every presentation is worth that kind of investment of time. But if you do decide to memorize your talk, be aware that there’s a predictable arc to the learning curve. Most people go through what I call the “valley of awkwardness,” where they haven’t quite memorized the talk. If they give the talk while stuck in that valley, the audience will sense it. Their words will sound recited, or there will be painful moments where they stare into the middle distance, or cast their eyes upward, as they struggle to remember their lines. This creates distance between the speaker and the audience .
Getting past this point is simple, fortunately. It’s just a matter of rehearsing enough times that the flow of words becomes second nature. Then you can focus on delivering the talk with meaning and authenticity. Don’t worry—you’ll get there.
But if you don’t have time to learn a speech thoroughly and get past that awkward valley, don’t try. Go with bullet points on note cards. As long as you know what you want to say for each one, you’ll be fine. Focus on remembering the transitions from one bullet point to the next.
Also pay attention to your tone. Some speakers may want to come across as authoritative or wise or powerful or passionate, but it’s usually much better to just sound conversational. Don’t force it. Don’t orate. Just be you.
If a successful talk is a journey, make sure you don’t start to annoy your travel companions along the way. Some speakers project too much ego. They sound condescending or full of themselves, and the audience shuts down. Don’t let that happen.
Develop Stage Presence
For inexperienced speakers, the physical act of being onstage can be the most difficult part of giving a presentation—but people tend to overestimate its importance. Getting the words, story, and substance right is a much bigger determinant of success or failure than how you stand or whether you’re visibly nervous. And when it comes to stage presence, a little coaching can go a long way.
The biggest mistake we see in early rehearsals is that people move their bodies too much. They sway from side to side, or shift their weight from one leg to the other. People do this naturally when they’re nervous, but it’s distracting and makes the speaker seem weak. Simply getting a person to keep his or her lower body motionless can dramatically improve stage presence. There are some people who are able to walk around a stage during a presentation, and that’s fine if it comes naturally. But the vast majority are better off standing still and relying on hand gestures for emphasis.
How to Pitch a Brilliant Idea
Perhaps the most important physical act onstage is making eye contact. Find five or six friendly-looking people in different parts of the audience and look them in the eye as you speak. Think of them as friends you haven’t seen in a year, whom you’re bringing up to date on your work. That eye contact is incredibly powerful, and it will do more than anything else to help your talk land. Even if you don’t have time to prepare fully and have to read from a script, looking up and making eye contact will make a huge difference.
Another big hurdle for inexperienced speakers is nervousness—both in advance of the talk and while they’re onstage. People deal with this in different ways. Many speakers stay out in the audience until the moment they go on; this can work well, because keeping your mind engaged in the earlier speakers can distract you and limit nervousness. Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School professor who studies how certain body poses can affect power, utilized one of the more unusual preparation techniques I’ve seen. She recommends that people spend time before a talk striding around, standing tall, and extending their bodies; these poses make you feel more powerful. It’s what she did before going onstage, and she delivered a phenomenal talk. But I think the single best advice is simply to breathe deeply before you go onstage. It works.
Nerves are not a disaster. The audience expects you to be nervous.
In general, people worry too much about nervousness. Nerves are not a disaster. The audience expects you to be nervous. It’s a natural body response that can actually improve your performance: It gives you energy to perform and keeps your mind sharp. Just keep breathing, and you’ll be fine.
Acknowledging nervousness can also create engagement. Showing your vulnerability, whether through nerves or tone of voice, is one of the most powerful ways to win over an audience, provided it is authentic. Susan Cain , who wrote a book about introverts and spoke at our 2012 conference, was terrified about giving her talk. You could feel her fragility onstage, and it created this dynamic where the audience was rooting for her—everybody wanted to hug her afterward. The fact that we knew she was fighting to keep herself up there made it beautiful, and it was the most popular talk that year.
Plan the Multimedia
With so much technology at our disposal, it may feel almost mandatory to use, at a minimum, presentation slides. By now most people have heard the advice about PowerPoint: Keep it simple; don’t use a slide deck as a substitute for notes (by, say, listing the bullet points you’ll discuss—those are best put on note cards); and don’t repeat out loud words that are on the slide. Not only is reciting slides a variation of the teleprompter problem—“Oh, no, she’s reading to us, too!”—but information is interesting only once, and hearing and seeing the same words feels repetitive. That advice may seem universal by now, but go into any company and you’ll see presenters violating it every day.
Many of the best TED speakers don’t use slides at all, and many talks don’t require them. If you have photographs or illustrations that make the topic come alive, then yes, show them. If not, consider doing without, at least for some parts of the presentation. And if you’re going to use slides, it’s worth exploring alternatives to PowerPoint. For instance, TED has invested in the company Prezi, which makes presentation software that offers a camera’s-eye view of a two-dimensional landscape. Instead of a flat sequence of images, you can move around the landscape and zoom in to it if need be. Used properly, such techniques can dramatically boost the visual punch of a talk and enhance its meaning.
Artists, architects, photographers, and designers have the best opportunity to use visuals. Slides can help frame and pace a talk and help speakers avoid getting lost in jargon or overly intellectual language. (Art can be hard to talk about—better to experience it visually.) I’ve seen great presentations in which the artist or designer put slides on an automatic timer so that the image changed every 15 seconds. I’ve also seen presenters give a talk accompanied by video, speaking along to it. That can help sustain momentum. The industrial designer Ross Lovegrove’s highly visual TED Talk , for instance, used this technique to bring the audience along on a remarkable creative journey .
Another approach creative types might consider is to build silence into their talks, and just let the work speak for itself. The kinetic sculptor Reuben Margolin used that approach to powerful effect. The idea is not to think “I’m giving a talk.” Instead, think “I want to give this audience a powerful experience of my work.” The single worst thing artists and architects can do is to retreat into abstract or conceptual language.
Video has obvious uses for many speakers. In a TED Talk about the intelligence of crows, for instance, the scientist showed a clip of a crow bending a hook to fish a piece of food out of a tube—essentially creating a tool. It illustrated his point far better than anything he could have said.
Used well, video can be very effective, but there are common mistakes that should be avoided. A clip needs to be short—if it’s more than 60 seconds, you risk losing people. Don’t use videos—particularly corporate ones—that sound self-promotional or like infomercials; people are conditioned to tune those out. Anything with a soundtrack can be dangerously off-putting. And whatever you do, don’t show a clip of yourself being interviewed on, say, CNN. I’ve seen speakers do this, and it’s a really bad idea—no one wants to go along with you on your ego trip. The people in your audience are already listening to you live; why would they want to simultaneously watch your talking-head clip on a screen?
Putting It Together
We start helping speakers prepare their talks six months (or more) in advance so that they’ll have plenty of time to practice. We want people’s talks to be in final form at least a month before the event. The more practice they can do in the final weeks, the better off they’ll be. Ideally, they’ll practice the talk on their own and in front of an audience.
The tricky part about rehearsing a presentation in front of other people is that they will feel obligated to offer feedback and constructive criticism. Often the feedback from different people will vary or directly conflict. This can be confusing or even paralyzing, which is why it’s important to be choosy about the people you use as a test audience, and whom you invite to offer feedback. In general, the more experience a person has as a presenter, the better the criticism he or she can offer.
I learned many of these lessons myself in 2011. My colleague Bruno Giussani, who curates our TEDGlobal event, pointed out that although I’d worked at TED for nine years, served as the emcee at our conferences, and introduced many of the speakers, I’d never actually given a TED Talk myself. So he invited me to give one, and I accepted.
It was more stressful than I’d expected. Even though I spend time helping others frame their stories, framing my own in a way that felt compelling was difficult. I decided to memorize my presentation, which was about how web video powers global innovation, and that was really hard: Even though I was putting in a lot of hours, and getting sound advice from my colleagues, I definitely hit a point where I didn’t quite have it down and began to doubt I ever would. I really thought I might bomb. I was nervous right up until the moment I took the stage. But it ended up going fine. It’s definitely not one of the all-time great TED Talks, but it got a positive reaction—and I survived the stress of going through it.
10 Ways to Ruin a Presentation
As hard as it may be to give a great talk, it’s really easy to blow it. Here are some common mistakes that TED advises its speakers to avoid.
- Take a really long time to explain what your talk is about.
- Speak slowly and dramatically. Why talk when you can orate?
- Make sure you subtly let everyone know how important you are.
- Refer to your book repeatedly. Even better, quote yourself from it.
- Cram your slides with numerous text bullet points and multiple fonts.
- Use lots of unexplained technical jargon to make yourself sound smart.
- Speak at great length about the history of your organization and its glorious achievements.
- Don’t bother rehearsing to check how long your talk is running.
- Sound as if you’re reciting your talk from memory.
- Never, ever make eye contact with anyone in the audience.
Ultimately I learned firsthand what our speakers have been discovering for three decades: Presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance, not speaking style or multimedia pyrotechnics. It’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. If you have something to say, you can build a great talk. But if the central theme isn’t there, you’re better off not speaking. Decline the invitation. Go back to work, and wait until you have a compelling idea that’s really worth sharing.
The single most important thing to remember is that there is no one good way to do a talk . The most memorable talks offer something fresh, something no one has seen before. The worst ones are those that feel formulaic. So do not on any account try to emulate every piece of advice I’ve offered here. Take the bulk of it on board, sure. But make the talk your own. You know what’s distinctive about you and your idea. Play to your strengths and give a talk that is truly authentic to you.
- CA Chris Anderson is the curator of TED.
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7 Tips for Designing and Delivering PowerPoint Presentations
PowerPoint presentations are a great way to support a speech, visualize complicated concepts or focus an audience’s attention. However, a bad presentation can achieve the opposite. Poorly designed slides with too much text or distracting graphics can lead the audience away from your message. Consider these tips to avoid common mistakes:
1.Create a simple design template.
Use the slide master feature or a provided template to create consistency in your design. The method of content presentation (list, image, text) depends on the content, but consistency with other elements such as font, colors, background, throughout the presentation is essential. Establish consistent contrasting colors (dark/light) for text and background.
2. Use appropriate font and size.
Choose your font and size carefully. Use sans serif fonts (such as Arial Rounded MT Bold) and 32 point font size for text. Anything smaller is difficult to read. Avoid all caps. Use color to highlight. Limit punctuation. Follow the 6×6 rule: No more than 6 lines of text per slide and no more than 6 words in each line of text.
3. Use good quality images.
Images should reinforce and complement your message. They should be impactful, not space-fillers. Empty space on the slide will actually enhance readability. Don’t clutter the slide with images unless they add value. Also, test your images to make sure they retain quality when projected on a larger screen. Clip art generally lacks emphasis. If you are willing to purchase quality images to enhance your presentation, try corbis.com .
4. Avoid too many special effects.
These features seem impressive at first, but they tend to distract from your message and get old quickly. Transitions, text fly-ins, animations and sounds may reduce the professionalism you desire to portray. Special effect are similar to graphics, they should impact the presentation not detract from the presentation.
5. Limit the number of slides.
Limit the number of slides according to the time you have available for the presentation. Flipping to the next slide constantly and rushing through the presentation not only distracts the audience, but typically does not get your message across. A good rule of thumb is one slide per minute.
6.Learn to navigate your presentation in a non-linear fashion.
PowerPoint allows the presenter to move forward and backwards without paging through interim slides. Practice moving forward and backward within your presentation. Your audience may want to see a previous slide or you may want to skip ahead to something of immediate relevance. Know these shortcuts:
7. Do not read from your slides or speak to them.
Don’t face the screen and read your slides. The bulleted information on your slides should be supplementary to what you are saying. Use the slides to trigger your comments or to pace yourself, but do not read them. The audience can read. Remember that your slides are only there to support, not to replace your talk! You’ll want to tell a story, describe your data or explain circumstances, and only provide keywords through your slides. If you read your slides, the audience will get bored, stop listening and not get your message.
13 Things to Include in Your Next Powerpoint Presentation
Your visual presentation can be improved with these 13 tips and tricks.
When putting together a presentation or deck for a big meeting, including a visual element is key.
However, having too many of the wrong things in your PowerPoint could harm your pitch rather than help. To help make your next investor meeting a success, 13 entrepreneurs from YEC share what you shouldn’t forget to include in your next PowerPoint.
1. Information not on your slides
Having literally worked on PowerPoint itself once upon a time, it pains me to say that I’ve seen far too many decks which act as a word-for-word transcript. A much better strategy is to limit each point you want to make to 1-3 words on the slide. Your now extemporaneous talk will be more engaging, flow more naturally and give you greater flexibility to adjust on the fly for the audience. – Amit Kumar , CardSpring
2. An objection slide
After presenting the benefits of your proposition, end by addressing the critical issues. Most presenters avoid these, but there’s always a critical guy in the audience who will bring them up. You’re much better positioned if you bring them up first and point out how you’re going to find the right solution together. – Steli Efti , Close.io
3. An agenda
I always add an agenda as the second or third slide. This way, it sets everyone’s expectations for the meeting. It also helps with the flow of the presentation so everyone knows what the purpose of the meeting is and how everything connects. – Juliette Brindak , Miss O and Friends
4. A call-to-action slide
What is the action you want people to take as a result of listening to your presentation? Put that action up on the concluding slide so you make sure that your presentation achieves its purpose. – Brett Farmiloe , Markitors
5. Key takeaways
By concluding your slide with a brief summary of some of the key points highlighted throughout the presentation, you can control the last memory that your audience will have of your presentation. Use it as a way to highlight some of the top selling points behind your brand. – Phil Laboon , Eyeflow Internet Marketing
6. Engaging visuals
When preparing a presentation for a big meeting, make sure your slides are not crammed with text. One of the best ways to convey your points and make a lasting impression is to use a lot of interesting and effective visuals like graphs or infographics in your presentation. Not only will this place the attention of meeting attendees on you as a presenter, but it will be more effective too. – Doreen Bloch , Poshly Inc.
7. Your logo
Including your logo is your chance to have a small branding moment on each page. – Ashley Mady , Brandberry
8. Backup slides
Include backup materials for detail questions. Your presentation should be concise and to the point, always moving toward your target outcome. But sometimes detail-oriented audience members want to veer into the weeds and go off-presentation. Quickly address their questions with backup slides, materials or handouts. Then get back to your presentation and target outcome. – Matt Hunckler , Verge
9. Updated data
It’s great to have a tried-and-true deck, but if you’re too attached to your favorite PowerPoint you may fail to notice when a certain slide has gone stale. Revisit every single number and date to make sure they’re current, especially if they make reference to your business’ traction or market. – Heather Schwarz-Lopes , EarlyShares
10. Who you are
Whether it’s an investor pitch, an academic talk, or just any kind of presentation, you need to make it clear to your audience why you are there taking their time and why they should trust you. Talk about your past accomplishments and other projects you’ve worked on as a way to build credibility. No need for your life story — 30 seconds should be enough. – John Rood , Next Step Test Preparation
11. A clear roadmap
Creating and establishing a clear roadmap in your speech allows the audience to keep track with you. No one likes going through multiple slides with no clear indication where they are in the presentation. – Kenny Nguyen , Big Fish Presentations
12. The answer to “so what?”
Your audience subconsciously asks “So what?”. If I’m the reader, I want to know why what I’m reading is important, why it’s relevant to me, and what I can specifically do about it. – Ben Lyon , Kopo Kopo, Inc.
13. Contact information
Don’t forget to prominently display your contact information on your last slide. Whether you’re using the PowerPoint for a presentation or emailing your deck, you want the recipients to follow up with you. So make it easy for them to do so. And often just seeing your contact information will remind them that they should. – Nicolas Gremion , Free-eBooks.net
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