by Megan Stansfield
Standards have risen sharply in recent years when it comes to making intriguing presentations. The days of boring slides and droning speakers are over. With the widespread use of PowerPoint and the ease of making colorful, interesting slides with movement and sound effects, it is expected that you will make a fabulously engaging presentation whether it's in a classroom, a boardroom, or at a trade show.
Here are some tips on how to make a terrific slide presentation.
First, be prepared. Make sure you have a laptop, a projector, and a projector cart ready to go. We recommend the Fusion Laptop Projector Cart from Versatables. Many hotels, universities, and businesses have one—so don't be afraid to ask if they do when you're getting ready to make the presentation. The Fusion Laptop Projector Cart allows for easy projection and control of the laptop from one mobile unit. If they don't have one, you may need to make other arrangements. If you aren't using your own laptop, bring your presentation on a flash drive and email it to yourself as well. Just in case the flash drive doesn't work, you'll be able to access your email on the laptop (most places now have Wi-Fi) and download it directly to the laptop you'll be working from.
Second, bring handouts of your slides just in case. I know of a woman who went to give a power point presentation and the university's projector wasn't working. Luckily, she handed out the handouts she brought and the show went on. She looked like a star for being prepared when the university wasn't.
Third, don't overdo it. Too many graphics, too much color, and too much sound can all negatively impact a presentation. You want the means of the presentation to enhance the subject you're presenting—not overpower it. Pick one color scheme and stick to it. Avoid the swirling graphics and stick to simpler ones. Don't include a million examples of clip art or decorative photographs. As you create the slides, make sure the information is presented in a clear, logical way. Then look at each individual slide and ask if there is anything that could be added to visually enhance the viewer's understanding of the material. A chart? A graphic? A photo? If the answer is no, don't include one. If it's yes, think long and hard about which graphic achieves your goal of enhancing understanding before adding it. The problem with many presentations is that they seem amateurish because the presenter went overboard decorating his/her presentation with graphics that distract more than they enhance.
Fourth, pay attention to time. If you can convey the same information in eight minutes instead of twelve, why wouldn't you? Everyone's time is precious and attention spans are short. If you're clear and concise about what you want to get across, there may not be a need to give lots of convoluted information and scenarios. Stick to one clear example that illustrates your point and applies to the people you're presenting to.
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