Have you ever been asked to give a presentation and had no idea where to start? It’s easy to waste a lot of time and effort when creating a PowerPoint presentation. Common mistakes include producing far too much content only to cut half of it out later, making your slides too text heavy rather than visual, and losing sight of your key message amongst the waffle! Follow our 10-step guide to building a killer presentation in the shortest time possible:
- Start by getting crystal clear on your presentation purpose
What is the outcome you want from this talk? What is the best possible reaction or feedback you could get from the audience? Start with this and write it down on paper.
- Find out who’s attending
Ask the event organiser for details of the audience. What are their job titles? How much do they know about the topic? Most importantly, what do they want to get out of your talk?
- Clarify your core message
Now that you’re clear on your presentation’s purpose and audience, what is the key message you want to leave your audience with? Hint: you should be able to say this in 15 words or less, and it should be clear enough for your audience to be able to repeat at the end of your presentation.
- Begin creating your content.
The basic outline of your presentation should look like this:
- Tell the audience what you’re going to tell them
- Tell them it
- Tell them what you told them
And the expanded version might look like this:
|Opening||Could open with a startling question / statement / story to grab attention…|
|Introduction||Good morning, my name is X and today I’m going to tell you X….|
|Body||Point 1 – Support material (Story? Facts?)|
|Point 2 – Support material (Story? Facts?)|
|Point 3 – Support material (Story? Facts?)|
|Conclusion||To summarise, today I have told you about X….|
|Call to action||If you’d like to know more, you can contact me at X…|
|Close||Thank you for listening. I’ll hand you back over to X…|
- Calculate how many slides should be in your presentation
The recommended slide use is to speak for 2 minutes per slide, so if you’re giving a 20 minute presentation, aim for around 10 slides. Open up PowerPoint and insert the right number of slides before you begin writing so you can see how big the canvas is.
- Populate your PowerPoint slides, using a font size of no less than 30 pts
When you see how big this looks, it will help you to keep the text on your slides to an absolute minimum! Use simple language and steer clear of jargon. You can use the ‘notes’ section underneath the slide for more extensive notes to help you talk around the slide content.
- Now swap some of the text for visual content to bring your presentation to life
This could be photos, videos, infographics, graphs… anything that presents the information in a visually stimulating way. Believe it or not, our brains process imagery 60,000 times faster than text!
- Incorporate stories, metaphors and anecdotes
Did you know we are 22 times more likely to remember a story than a fact? This is because stories engage the emotional part of our brains. If you want to make a point no one will forget, link it to a story or a metaphor. For example, I once saw a conference speaker open their presentation like this:
“The early bird gets the worm or the second mouse gets the cheese. Which one of these is true when it comes to business?”
- Add in questions.. or at least rhetorical questions
Some audience interaction is a great way to wake people up, especially at the beginning of your presentation. You could ask a poignant question that leads you onto your next slide, or ask for a raise of hands, for example “Does anyone here want to guess what % of people in the UK give money to charity?” “Raise your hands if you’ve spent more than 20 minutes on Facebook today!”
- Practise, practise, practise
Do a dry run with friends, or video record yourself giving the presentation to familiarise yourself with the content and practise the flow. The earlier you do this in the process or building your slides, the more time you will save. Always leave tidying up your slides until the last stage, as the content of your presentation will evolve as you practise it in real time.
The final word? Make sure your PowerPoint slide show supports your talk, not the other way around! Be careful not to just read your slides out. Keep the audience focused on you rather than your PowerPoint by presenting with flair and enthusiasm. Pick up these skills on our Public Speaking Essential Skills course.