The experience of creating presentations and then delivering them to an audience usually falls into two categories: the presentation is warmly received, achieving the desired result of getting people interested to learn more about your business — or the response is so flat and empty, you can hear crickets chirping in the conference room.
Anyone who's given a presentation can relate to these outcomes. On the flipside, anyone who's ever been an audience member during a boring and seemingly interminable presentation likely vowed to never repeat the experience.
How can you prepare and deliver a presentation that's entertaining, informative and makes your business more memorable in the minds of the audience members? Here are five key tips for creating presentations that leave your audiences wanting to learn more:
1. Keep Text to a Minimum
The principle of "less is more" is nowhere as relevant as in a business presentation. Too many words on a slide or screen not only slows the pace of a presentation, it obliges the audience to read, rather than listen to, what you're saying.
Use no more than six bullet points per slide and no more than six words per bullet. (Also avoid complete sentences, unless you're repurposing a quote.)
2. Choose a Readable Font
Ditch the creative urge to splash the screen with multiple fonts. If getting a message across is your key objective (and what else is a presentation for, really?), stick to standard sans serif fonts like Helvetica, Arial or Calibri — which are all easy for viewers to read quickly.
3. Select Images Carefully
In business presentations, the right multimedia trumps the best words every time. Capitalize on human preference for imagery over text by selecting the right pictures for your purposes. Keep these additional tips in mind:
- One image per slide is generally the most effective.
- "Images" may also refer to graphs (to convey data points) and diagrams (to illustrate how a business process works). Again, opt for simplicity.
- Balance images with whitespace for a clean look. If you don't, your slides may seem unprofessional and can lead to confusion.
4. Look for the Right Balance of Colors and Contrast
Both the words and images you choose will have more impact with the right level of contrast against the background. A single-color background or an attractive bar of color is preferable to multiple colors and elaborate designs. Contrasting black and yellow, for example, is both eye-catching and memorable.
One additional point: If the presentation involves your business brand, incorporate the brand colors — typically a primary and secondary brand color — per your company's brand guidelines. This helps reinforce credibility and consistency.
5. Skip The 'Flashy' Stuff
The impulse to "dazzle" your audience with clever slide transitions and intriguing sound effects should be checked at the door. Building in these special effects is not just distracting, it also tends to slow the computer you're relying on to run your presentation. Your focus should be on conveying your message effectively, so only use those flashy elements when they help support that goal.
Creating presentations can be fun and engaging, as long as you keep simplicity and the interests (and attention) of your audience in mind at all times.