I’m often asked about the “rules” for PowerPoint® presentations. How many bullets? How many words per bullet? Font size? Font type? There are some great books on the subject. I happen to like Garr Reynold’s Presentation Zen and Michael Flocker’s Death by PowerPoint®. You can read a hundred books on the subject and go to classes and seminars. If you do, you’ll hear hundreds of pieces of advice, some conflicting, about how to wow your audiences and get your point across. So what is the best advice? Ask your audience!
Of course, it may be difficult or impossible to ask your audience directly about how they want to be informed. But, if you put yourself in their shoes (or seats) as you are composing your presentation and ask yourself the following questions, you will end up with a better presentation than the one with which you started.
- Can I read/see the slide from the worst seat in the house?
- Will I be distracted by the slide contents when I should be listening to the speaker?
- Do the colors used help to clarify the information or make me “like” the presentation more. Or, are they just “window dressing.”
- Does the animation used on bullet points or diagrams aid my understanding?
- Do I want to take the action the speaker wants me to take or am I “fighting” it?
- Are the graphics clear and sharp or do they look amateurish?
- What is the purpose of this graphic or this piece of clip art? Does it serve a purpose?
- Am I focused on the slide most of the time or the speaker?
- Could this presentation have just as well been distributed by email rather than presented in person?
- Would I want to hear this presenter present another topic?
What questions do you ask yourself as you review your presentation? I’d love to hear them!