This episode contains abbreviated language with dubious meaning. It’s for instructional purposes only. Don’t repeat at work. Today, I want to share with you three tips that helped me make more effective PowerPoint slides and deliver better presentations. So if you go to a lot of internal company meetings and you need to present at some of them, so either to your team or your management or you’re a consultant that needs to pitch a product or service to another company, these tips can help you. They actually stem from my own mistakes and these are the tips that I personally use to improve my presentations. Number one, simplicity is not the enemy of detail.
In fact, as stated by Davinci, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Slides are there to help deliver your message. They aren’t there for you to remember your text. They’re for your audience, not for you. This was a big problem area for me when I created slides. When I went to a meeting I took with me one thing, my slides, they were my cue points. They were also my handouts.
It was like a three in one deal except that it was only a good deal for me, but not for my audience. I used to add one bullet point after another because I didn’t want to forget something. What happened was I ended up with crowded, intimidating slides, slides that no one could or wanted to read, not only where they’re distracting cause who can read and listen at the same time, but I started to lose people’s attention. They started to think about their dinner and fitness plans. Something you probably don’t want to encourage while you’re presenting.
One complicated slide takes the same amount of time to present as three simple slides. It’s a question of pacing your communication. It’s about giving them the right amount of information in the order they need to understand it. The difference is the complicated slide confuses and distracts the viewers. Whereas with the simple ones, they’re likely to stay on and get your message.
Now when I attend an important meeting, I take with me three things. I have my cue cards which help me remember my points. I have my slides which help my audience. Remember the most important points and I have the detailed handouts that help them get more detail if they want. If you’re not sure whether your slides are simple enough or not, here’s the test you can do.
If you gave your PowerPoint, to your neighbor and you ask them, go to the meeting and press next, next, next, on the slides. Will it make sense to your audience? If yes, that’s not a PowerPoint presentation. Those are your handouts. Your slides shouldn’t make sense without you.
Number two, the use of acronyms. Do they help or hurt? If you’re in a finance meeting and you say, let’s take a look at the BS you’ve been working on, probably people will understand you mean balance sheet and you’re not trying to be offensive, but it’s not always clear. When I working in a team, on an Oracle project setting up a group finance consolidation system, we had to create the backbone structure, which is called the Metadata of the system. One task was to set up different hierarchies for our company structure and all of them had code names like no spaces, short words, sometimes numbers. One request we got was to set up separate structures for our European and American companies.
The code to use was A. N. A. L Europe, A. N. A. L America. A.N. A.L standing for analysis. Some words just shouldn’t be shorted. You can either entirely replace them or use the full word.
So going back to your use of acronyms in a meeting, you want to make sure that you don’t unintentionally offend someone. And you don’t exclude anyone because they don’t understand what it means. So make sure you emphasize what these are in the handouts and also on the slide if you’re using them in there. Number three branding. Are you getting excessive with your branding? The companies I worked for always had their logo on every single slide. When I started to work on my own, that’s what I did.
I put my logo on every single slide prominently featured on top. I believed that was the professional thing to do, but when I started to make simpler slides, that logo was so distracting. It looked bigger than ever. Before I didn’t even notice it so much because the slide was so full, but when it started to get empty, I started to question the placement of any image or object on that slide, and I asked, does it bring any added value? Well, it didn’t. It was distracting.
I don’t need my logo on every single page. It’s enough to put it on the first and the last pages. And if you’re concerned about piracy, you can use a light watermark in the footer and make it small. That’s what I do. Think about this slides you use for your internal meetings. Do you have the logo on every single slide? Does it bring any added value?
So these were my three tips that help me make better PowerPoint slides and more effective presentations. I hope you found them helpful. I’m curious to hear what you think. Also, what do you most struggle with when you make PowerPoint presentations? Let me know in the comments below. Thank you for reading. See you in the next article.