Last Updated on October 20, 2022
In the previous two posts, we discussed why people feel uncomfortable with public speaking, the importance of being watched & listened to (by your audience) & how to make sure your presentation won’t be sabotaged by your very own visual material- your PowerPoint.
Now, we will analyze one of the most important factors when presenting in public: the content, and your visual material.
There are too many things that could be written on this topic and we would need hundreds of blog posts to analyze them all. That’s why we’ve decided to narrow down our topic to the most-used tool for creating presentations, PowerPoint.
5 Key PowerPoint Tips
Let’s be honest… the truth is that most PowerPoint presentations are just not good, meaning they don’t add to the understanding of the content, and they do not help the speaker convey his/her message.
Presenters add too much information on one slide, use too few images and too much text, and don’t take advantage of what science has taught us about how people learn.
💡 Here are the 5 tips to follow, to avoid an unengaged audience:
- 1 + 1 = 0.
- Images + bullet points > sentences.
- Use size to your advantage.
- Contrast is important.
- 6 is the perfect number.
Let’s break them down.
1 + 1 = 0
Did you know that only 2% of humans can multitask? (To find out if you belong among them, take this quiz.) People can’t focus on many things simultaneously, because they end up missing some (or all) of the information presented.
Research shows that – particularly in learning- people will forget almost everything they just heard if there are 2 different messages on one slide.
Thus, you should only have 1 message per slide.
Example: if you have 2 paragraphs on a slide, each conveying a different message (1 + 1), people will remember almost nothing (= 0).
At 100mentors, we wanted to create a slide with the benefits Student Recruitment Officers & School managers gain from 100mentors. But, those are 2 messages. So we just kept only one – the for recruiters.
Isn’t it better now?
Images + bullet points > sentences
Presenters usually forget why PowerPoint was originally invented; to become a tool for the visual representation of the content presented…not to replace the speaker.
But, it’s 2022 and we keep seeing slides with way too much text, which is impossible to read. Slides like this one (for the record this is an old slide – but you get the idea 😂):
What if we replaced these long & tiring-to-read sentences with related images and bullet point text?
Wouldn’t it be much better for our audience to understand our message more easily & quickly?
Also, we can keep the previous sentences in the comments section, and use them as a script to refer to if we forget what we wanted to say on this slide.
And, alas, PowerPoint is beginning to be used the way it’s supposed to be used. 😉
Use size to your advantage
Take a look at the following picture. Where is your attention drawn to?
The headline, right? That’s totally normal since people’s attention is drawn by the large items first.
Speakers usually create slides with big headlines. So the question is:
How often is the headline the most important part of a slide?
If you’re an experienced speaker, you’ll probably say ‘rarely’.
So why don’t we use this to our advantage? Why don’t we just make smaller headlines and draw our audience’s attention to the important parts (which usually is the content below)?
The rule here is simple:
The most important part of your PowerPoint should also be the biggest one on the slide.
Contrast is important
Take a look at the following picture. Again, what grabs your attention?
Difficult to say.
You may be looking at the 1st, the 3rd, or 5th bullet points. This makes it difficult for the speaker to understand if he/she is being followed by the audience.
To overcome this challenge, we will apply contrasts.
Take a look at the following images and again, and try to understand where your eyes are focusing on:
I think we can all agree that the darker text stands out, and our attention will be drawn to that bullet point.
Contrast will control your focus.
6 is the perfect number (of objects per slide)
This is one of the most controversial issues regarding presentations and slides.
To provide you with the exact number of the objects/slide you should include in your presentations, take a look at the following images and try counting the circles to observe where you counted faster.
An average person requires:
– 2 seconds to count the 10 circles in the 1st picture.
– 1,2 seconds to count the 7 circles in the 2nd picture.
– 0,2 seconds to count the 6 circles in the 3rd picture.
This simple experiment shows that there is a huge difference (500%) between the time humans need to count 6 and 7 objects.
Want to know why that is?
For 7 (or more) items, people need to count, while, for 6 (or less), please can observe/see.
So people will actually need 500% more time & energy to grasp the main idea if you have more than 6 items on your slide.
And you don’t want your audience to try too much to follow you, right?
Thus the rule is simple:
6 items is the maximum you can have in one slide.
In summary, as you can see, the tips we’ve shared above are simple but can have a great impact on your presentation.
Remember to keep 1 message per slide, add images & bullet points instead of sentences, increase font size to highlight importance, experiment with contrasts, and finally, do not go over 6 items of information per slide.
Put these tips & tricks into action and you will master your presentation skills.
(before – after)
*This article is based on the book How to avoid death by PowerPoint by David JP Phillips.
This is one part of a 6-part series, highlighting the must-knows of presenting and public speaking.
To catch up on the rest of the series, check out: Part 1 of 6: 5 Ways to Conquer Your Public Speaking Fears, Part 2 of 6: Technology Tips for Presenting to Live & Virtual Audiences, Part 4 of 6: 4 Ways to Use Body Language to Be Perceived as a Friendly & Influential Speaker & Part 5 of 6: 3 Ways to Actively Engage Your Audience When Presenting.
2 comments On 5 Tips to Master your Presentation Skills
You’ve written it so well, and you have some really good ideas. This post is outstanding!
Thank you so much for taking the time to leave us this amazing comment – we’re glad that you see value in our blog post!