Perfect PowerPoint

PowerPoint presentations are one of the most popular and powerful training tools in use today. As with any tool, there’s a right way and a wrong to use it—and the tool’s effectiveness is directly proportional to the way it is used. Here’s how to get the most effective use of PowerPoint presentations:

Outline your presentation’s main points and message before creating a single slide. Story comes first, then slides.
Keep slides simple. Use only three to five bullets and one or two graphics per slide.

Keep animation to a minimum. Don’t use it just because it’s there. The software allows you to make text and images move, blink, fade in, swoop over, etc., but most of this movement is only a distraction and actually hinders audience retention of the points you’re trying to make. Trainees may pay more attention to the pretty colors or the impressive effects as words come flying in than to the information those words contain.

Limit the number of slides to between 20 and 30. This is generally a comfortable amount of information to give out in an hour-long presentation. Fewer slides may not cover a topic adequately and more slides may cause information overload in trainees.

Run your completed presentation a few times on your own computer to fix any glitches. Also run it a few times on the computer you will be using in class to make sure it works smoothly on that machine.

While running your presentation in the training room, figure out the best place to position yourself. Choose a spot that gives you easy access to advance slides as well as availability to audience members so that you can see whether they want your attention to ask questions or comment on a slide’s points.

When rehearsing your presentation, experiment with lighting in the room to make sure that slides are easily visible and that there’s enough light for trainees to take notes.

Begin each session by giving a brief overview of the topic and/or asking participants what they expect to learn before getting into the slide presentation. This establishes a connection between you and the audience in which you can set up an atmosphere of
interactivity before lowering the lights, which could inhibit audience members from speaking up if you haven’t set the stage for them to feel free to do so.

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