The plusses (and pitfalls) of PowerPoint

Last month I touched on presentation skills – and these days it’s hard not to put on a presentation without using PowerPoint.

Since its inception in 1990, PowerPoint has become the go-to program for effective public speaking. But raise your hand if you’ve ever sat in a darkened room, eyes drooping, head nodding as you endure slide after slide after slide.

Here are a few ideas that will help make your speech a winner, with no Red Bull needed to resuscitate your audience!

l. Your speech should drive the PowerPoint presentation, not vice versa. Write your speech out before creating your first PowerPoint slide.

2. If you take only one thing away from this article, this is it:  no paragraphs. No big blocks of text. Do not reproduce your speech onto slides. PowerPoint is meant to enhance your speech, not compete with you for the audience’s attention.

People can all read a lot faster than you can speak, so they’ll have read and be digesting the info before you’ve finished reading the first sentence. Plus it’s just annoying when someone reads out loud to you.

If your speech reads, “Beach weddings are still hugely popular, but did you know that today you can get married in an Italian villa or a Scottish castle? I’ve even arranged for a couple to get married at the top of a glacier, complete with helicopter!”, then your PowerPoint slide should read, ‘Destination Weddings:  New Options’.

3. Simple dark text on a white background is easiest to read.  Choose two or three fonts at most.  Make sure the words are big enough to be easily read even in the back of the room. Intersperse your text slides with images. Whoever said that a picture is worth 1,000 words was so right!

4. Silence can be powerful.  Leave time for people to react to a beautiful image or digest an interesting statistic.

5. Use PowerPoint to help build your brand.  You could use ‘Mary Smith:  Destination Wedding Expert’ as your footer on every slide.

And of course, practice, practice, practice. You’re sure to be a star!