I’ve seen effective 20-minute presentations that only use 15 slides and others that use 100 slides. The objective at the end of the day is to get the point across in a clear and memorable way that creates an obvious call to action.
A presentation should be an enjoyable experience for the audience and presenter alike. This is better for both parties involved.
The short answer is that there is no “right” way to design a presentation. However, that said, there are a few critical guidelines that every presentation should try to follow to help make it a stronger presentation:
Firstly, try to minimize the amount of messages on each slide. One thought per slide is best. Cut down the text to the bare minimum. Most people I work with always need to use the presentation as an emailable document as well as a live presentation and always want to have more text than is ideal for a live presentation. Either way, you can normally re-write text to get the message across using fewer words.
Ensure you have an effective presentation template. The biggest problem I come across is that most templates are created by general graphic designers and not presentation designers. General Designers want the template to be the hero as it showcases their design capabilities. However the job of a good presentation template is to be subtle, quiet and calm. The template is not the hero, the content should be.
Train your sales people and other relevant parties inside the organization about what makes a good presentation and a strong presenter. PowerPoint is used by so many people inside a company who are not aware of what makes a strong presentation. Normally within a few weeks a strong presentation has been edited, adapted and changed by a range of people and can end up looking completely different. By giving people some basic training and guidelines you can make a real difference to how the outside world will experience your presentations in the end.
Impress on people who are creating presentations for your company to dedicate enough time for a presentation. Too often a presentation is seen as another little job to tick off on the long to-do list. By enabling people to feel comfortable about spending time on this important activity you will already go a long way to improving the end product.
Try not to use bullet points. If you have five points or messages to get across on a slide there are many design techniques you can use without the need for bullet points. You will be amazed at what a difference this will make to the presentation and how the audience perceives it.
Lastly, use great images. One of the hardest and most time consuming parts of putting a presentation together can be searching for the right images to use. If you put enough effort into finding strong images and investing in them it can do wonders for the overall look of your presentation.
I would love to hear what you think makes a strong presentation or what your biggest obstacle is – leave a comment below and let’s get the discussion going? What do you think would make the biggest difference to your company’s presentations?