In order to succeed in the business world, you must learn to deliver powerful and effective business presentations. It’s about making an impact that influences your audience, whether you are an entrepreneur pitching investors, a small business owner pitching a product to a retailer or potential customer, a startup presenting a new initiative, or a manager asking for budget or staffing resources.
Here are five principles you must use to create powerful PowerPoint presentations:
1. It’s About You, Not the Slides
Whatever the purpose is for the presentation, it’s about your purpose or message, what you know, your passion, and your delivery. It’s not about what’s written on the slides.
Switch the focus of attention from the slides themselves and onto your message, your expertise, and your grasp of the content — not to mention your ultimate goal for the presentation itself.
You won’t be able to do that if you let the slides themselves dominate the presentation, if you read from your slides, or have so much text on your slides that the audience themselves read the slides instead of listening to you.
2. Let Your PowerPoint Slides Support Your Point, Not Make It
I’ve seen people, including experienced professionals at senior levels, essentially read from their slides when presenting. Or their slides have lots of points but the presenter ignores them and leaves the audience confused about whether to focus on the side or the presenter.
Slides that accompany a presentation shouldn’t be the focus of attention or prop up a poor presenter.
So, don’t develop slides so you can read them. Develop them to support you. Start with what you need to say by developing your outline, then create slides that complement and emphasize your points rather than starting with a slide and then scripting what you say around the slide.
3. Incorporate Graphics Into Your PowerPoint Presentation to Evoke Emotion
Slides don’t need to have bullets. If you do your presentation slides properly, they will be a guide or support to what you are saying. While you can accomplish that with short bullet points on your slides, you will have more impact with graphics and images.
And you don’t need follow the so-called rules of thumbs for the number of slides, since the time you spend on each slide is what should guide you.
Take the slide with five bullets and make five separate slides with either just a graphic that illustrates the point or a graphic and a word or two, but without a bullet point. You can spend the same amount of time on the five separate slides as you would on a single five-bullet slide, yet you will end up with more impactful slides.
4. Keep Your PowerPoint Slides Simple
If you are making a point, be clear and concise on your slide. Eliminate as many words as possible, use graphics as mentioned above, and, if you are creating a graph or using a table to show information, simplify them down to the essential elements that matter. Don’t just take a standard Excel graph and copy it onto your slide. Either simplify the Excel graph or create a simplified graphic in PowerPoint instead.
Take a look at a few examples of infographics to see how information can be conveyed in a more simplified, impactful way.
Beyond the content, make your template streamlined. Be a rebel and scrap your organization’s standard template. A simple single-colored background is best. Or use a colored slide for sections or to change topics, then simple white slides in between for your actual content. If you are using graphics to emphasize your point, make them full-slide size and your background template becomes a non-issue.
Also, eliminate the logo, contact information, or whatever else your marketing department added to the templates that show up on each slide. If you are presenting, they should know who you are. Putting your corporate info on the intro page and then possibly on the last page is all you need.
5. Tell a Story with Your Presentation
Storytelling has always been an effective way to convey information and make it more memorable. So, don’t just give information, facts, and figures on your slides.
Build a story into your presentation, whether a single scenario that you carry through your presentation or separate stories (or examples) throughout your presentation to emphasize and give context to specific points. Not only will it be more memorable if you can tailor your story to the audience, it will connect more readily.
The story isn’t for entertainment, although it should be interesting. The story should be related to the topic. For instance, if you are presenting a business case about new equipment, your story should be about the old equipment you are replacing and what happens when the new equipment is used. Create your story based on the real-life implications and benefits in a real-world application instead of just presenting uninteresting facts and figures that your audience will immediately forget.