Make your best impression with PowerPoint presentations?

1 May 2018

Has this happened to you? You’re sitting in a conference room filled with great minds. Up on the stage is a brilliant speaker sharing their fascinating insights on some new research – and you’re really, really ready to buy into the words they are speaking––but, the presentation slides accompanying the talk are distracting.
They’re either too much to take in, or are so badly thrown together that rather than adding to the credibility of the keynote, they definitely detract.


Presentation slides say more than you think


It doesn’t really matter whether you are presenting to clients, to team members at an internal meeting, or to a room full of peers and the public – the quality of, and narrative created by your supporting presentation deck have a more powerful influence than you think.
In business and in the non-profit world we are always going to be given opportunities to share information about our brand, cause, products or services. And while there are some newbie challengers to Microsoft suite (see also Prezi and Apple’s Keynote), PowerPoint remains the most popular platform we have to present our case with (so to speak).


So what makes for an effective PowerPoint presentation?


#1 – Tell a story

Every good story has a beginning, middle and an end. Don’t forget this when putting your presentation together. No matter what you are presenting, using some of the principals of storytelling can help you craft something that as a narrative, will be easier for your audience to digest and remember. In this way, every single slide in your presentation needs to have a purpose.

We found an oldie but goodie article on different storytelling for presentations if you wanted to have a read.


#2 – Keep it brief

We have all heard of the benefits of K.I.S.S (keep it simple stupid), and in this case it’s not that your audience has the intellectual capacity of a 5 year old – it’s that they do not have enough time to read through complex supporting text in a slide. The objective of your slide is to provide a visual prompter to help them understand a concept. Adopting this approach can really help understanding happen. The question here is, what is the simplest way to tell your story or explain this idea?

Anything that is particularly complex can be shared on a printed document, or sent following the presentation via a customised URL.


#3 – Mixed media for full effect

Videos and GIF’s are an interactive way to engage and entertain your audience. Where you can find a clip that correlates to your topic, add it in to enhance your narrative and give some space to your delivery. It’s a good idea to check with AV and IT ahead of time to ensure any interactive media is correctly embedded into your slide-deck, and that it will play as required.


#4 – Graphic design, a worthy investment

It goes without saying; professional graphic design is always, always going to make you look good. This could include other formats for communicating your ideas like an infographics, illustration and images. If you are worried about stock photos finding their way into client facing presentations, you might like to invest in a series of stylised photographs that suit your brand or pay for a service that offers a variety of higher quality images that can compliment a number of different topics.


#5 – Importance of brand

As with the above, creating a style guide for presentations can be a useful way to ensure your brand consistently comes across in the best fashion. You might like to create one for external facing presentations, and another for internal meetings and conferences. At the very least, your opening and closing slides should be the same across the organisation. Ensuring that you have the correct brand assets available including hi-res logos and any other complimentary images can be a simple way to make sure you look good – you’d be surprised how often team members end up using grainy pictures taken from Google images.


#6 – What about creative freedom?

This can be a tricky one, on the one hand you could have members of team ready to set their ideas off in creative new ways – or perhaps as is the case in some companies, the preference might be to use more traditional formats, images and colours. How do you strike the balance? How much is too much?

Using similar thinking to the adherence of brand guidelines, including an outline and demonstration of best practice for presentations, can really help to set the level of quality and get the tone right.

A branded slide deck will help; include pre-selected fonts, colours and selected types of data presentation styles like tables, graphs and charts.


Want to talk challenges and ideas for your next presentation? Speak to the team at Make It Happen on 02 8249 1817 or


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