The New York Times recently ran an article titled “PowerPoint Is the Most Efficient Way for Kids to Manage Their Parents”. It delved into the trend of kids creating PowerPoint presentations to achieve specific goals. Want a puppy? Outline your reasons why you’re responsible enough and how it will benefit the family. A trip to Disney World? Let’s see some graphs on why vacation builds family bonding. How about a mountain vacation home? Showcase how it can be both a place of relaxation and an income property. Throughout the article, kids outlined the key steps to success: come prepared, anticipate counter-arguments, be realistic, ask for the right things, and stay practical.
While PowerPoint may be new to the kid/parent relationship, it has a long history in business. All of us have a love-hate relationship with those digital slides, bracing for impact when someone utters “I’ve prepared a few slides on the topic.” The truth is that while there are many fantastic PowerPoint presentations out there, there are far more terrible ones. We’ve prepared five tips to keep in mind when creating your next deck.
1. Start on Paper
Slides should be the LAST thing you do when creating a presentation. Start on paper: outline the arguments you want to hit and write down each supporting talking point. From there, sketch out the flow of the presentation. Use Post-it notes to easily rearrange points as you work out the flow. You should be 99% solid on the content and flow of your presentation BEFORE you sit down to make your slides.
2. Limit Text
Slides are used to reinforce your augments, not provide a script for you. Avoid blocks of text or long bullet-pointed lists. Present content you want your audience to both to see and hear. You can use text or images — just know your audience and what works best for them.
3. Choose Images Wisely
Don’t use an image just for the sake of using an image. Screenshots and photos should offer evidence. Use diagrams for further explanation. Capture your audience’s attention or drive home a point with a cartoon.
4. Keep Diagrams/Graphs Clean and Straightforward
It should be obvious to your audience what you are showing. Diagrams and graphs should be simple and clearly labeled. Use visual cues or short text to draw your audience’s attention to your conclusions.
5. Meaningfully Use Effects and Transitions
Subtle transition effects or on-slide animation can be a great way to draw audience attention. However, they should only be used when they add value and help reinforce a point. Using too many animations quickly goes from attention-getting to distracting and can make your presentation look less professional.
Time to put you powerpoint skills to the test. Let’s get coffee and start strategizing together.