Do It Yourself PowerPoint Presentations


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Preparing yourself

PowerPoint Strategy

PowerPoint Design

Building the presentation






















































































PowerPoint Tips

The feedback we are having about the PowerPoint presentation advice is very gratifying and is encouraging us to add more content. Let us know what you think about Powerpoint tips.


Prepare Yourself - Presenting to an Audience

Everybody gets nervous before a presentation. So What! Its you that you are worried about! A very useful technique is to visualise yourself giving the presentation and it going well. Clearly picture the scene and think what is happening that is making it go well. This surprisingly simple method is extremely effective in making you more confident and improving the quality of the experience for everybody.

As a precursor to this visit the place where you are to give the presentation before hand to help you picture the scene.

Keep the nerves down by preparing thoroughly. Allow between 5 hours and 8 hours per hour of presentation. (This advice makes colledge lecturers laugh their socks clean off apparently)

Rehearse the presentation in front of an audience. Don't skip anything, these will be the bits that may go wrong.

Nerves are a good thing, the extra adrenaline helps you think faster and with a little control helps you properly focus on the task ahead.

To gain that extra control and to reduce anxiety the 7 11 method is a useful breathing technique. The aim is to breath out for longer than you breath in. This gives the body the signal that all is well and you automatically calm down. It works every time. Breath in slowly for 7 seconds, hold for 5 seconds and then breath out for 11 seconds then hold for 5 seconds. Its fine to build up to the eleven seconds.

Presenters, Actors and stage musicians will tell you that for a big audience you present to a point at the back of the room above the audience's head.

Most PowerPoint presentations are given to a small number and it is far better to build a rapport with a couple of people (preferably important people!) in the audience.

Get feedback, this helps make them part of the presentation and can reduce the fear factor dramatically.

If no feedback is coming from the audience no need to worry. People react differently at presentations and that bored looking person may actually be concentrating intently.

Oh and please don't sway from foot to foot. This is very off putting, annoying and embarrassing for the audience and they may be armed. It could be the end of a promising career. (This last tip provided by Lynna of Sussex Enterprise).

Humour can be a powerful tool but if your not sure if you can pull it off then you probably can't, use sparingly.


PowerPoint Strategy

Remember that the main power of the "stand up in front of an audience and talk to them whilst showing some slides" format is not the slides, its you! People will get a great deal of their confidence in what you tell them from the way you move, talk and enthuse. Don't be tempted to try and hide behind your PowerPoint slides, they are there to support you.

Use the PowerPoint to demonstrate what you are saying rather than to repeat what you are saying. This is the major place people go wrong and probably causes more exquisite agony for the audience than anything else.

In some cases it helps to think of the presentation in terms of a report. The PowerPoint Presentation is the ten page executive summary and put all the graphs, numbers and research behind it in the leave behind.

Give people the leave behind before the presentation so that they can make notes in their own way as you go along.

Many people have used the PowerPoint slides themselves as prompt cards. Now that you are using PowerPoint to back up what you are saying you need a different approach. Instead use the Notes Pages as personal prompts for yourself. (From the menu bar choose View/Notes Page).

Watch TV adverts and try and learn from them. See what they are doing to communicate a message. Count the number of bullet points that you see.

If you must use slides as a handout create your PowerPoint presentation accordingly. If the PowerPoint is backing up what you are saying then they may not be much use! We feel this is normally done to make the presenter appear to be giving good value and almost never serves any useful purpose. If you want a leave behind for your presentation then write one specifically.

Design the presentation to be dynamic with highs and lows.

Don’t just design the slides to be read out! This is a good cure for insomnia as peoples minds retreat from this exotic mental torture.

Vary the tone of your voice during the PowerPoint presentation. This adds a dynamic and helps hold interest.


PowerPoint Design & Before you Start

Make sure you are aware of exactly what the audience expect from your presentation as well as what you and your team want to communicate.

Know your audience and the key people in it.

Know your subject.

Peoples attention comes in waves. Be aware of it and use it. Audience attention peaks between 5 and 7 minutes and then again just before they think the presentation is about to end.

Tell the audience why its a good idea they are there for the presentation early on.

People remember 20% of what they read but can remember 80% of what is presented using sound, animation, video and text.


Building the PowerPoint Presentation

Use the master slide view to design the layout for all your pages. (Menu Bar/View/Master/Slide Master). The layout will then be incorporated into all the new pages you create.

Remember what you are paid for. If the presentation is important and when you are putting it together you find yourself wishing you had a degree in graphic design and education, pay somebody to build the presentation who does.

Use the Outline View to quickly put in the headings of each slide to help you structure the presentation but stop there. Adding sub headings at this stage will result in a presentation of pages and pages of bullet points.

Avoid page after page of bullet points. This will induce sleep.

Audiences these days expect a great deal from a PowerPoint presentation. Just because you have a piece of clip art on slide 13 don’t expect people to think you are the new Steven Spielberg of PowerPoint.

Never use clipart. The audience is likely to have attempted PowerPoint themselves and seeing clipart they recognise will start them on another train of thought. There are now a plethora of digital cameras and scanners available. Think laterally and don’t forget there are many image libraries out there.

This is the same for the sound files that come with PowerPoint. Avoid.

Say who you are and your relevance to the situation early, don't be tempted to give your family history.

Include diagrams in the presentation. They are excellent for those who perceive information graphically.

Less is more! Cut cut cut! Be brutal and remove everything that is not absolutely necessary.

When making or choosing a PowerPoint template use an uncluttered background, it is the content that you put on each slide that is important so it should be the most interesting thing on the screen.

Add gravitas to your presentation by including references to bodies or people that your audience respects.

Peoples eyes will tend to move form the top left to the bottom right of the screen.

In your minds eye divide the screen vertically and horizontally into thirds. Screen thirds and intersections of the thirds have special emphasis for the brain.

Chose a simple layout and stick to it. You can spend hours fiddling with the minutia of PowerPoint screen layout.

If you want to use transitions use the same simple one until you want to highlight a break point or underline a change in thinking.

Give your slides a sense of openness by using plenty of "white space" around headings and key items.

Remember that individual slides are not shown in isolation. Think sequence.

Use type sizes to show hierarchy of importance where appropriate.

Avoid slides that are full of data unless your point is that a large amount of data has been gathered or analysed.

Information/data often only means something when it is compared and contrasted to something else.

The use of graphics can show relationships between concepts and ideas.

Simple animation can be worth a thousand bullet points. PowerPoint provides good animation functions.

Use one font or a maximum of two. Using simple font options will encourage you to structure your presentation in other better ways.

Be aware of the colours that go together and those that don't. It might be worth taking a short course.

Get your major point in early. Some of your audience are in fact goldfish. (You see the sweet irony of putting this comment last. How many readers have continued to concentrate this far into the page!)

By Keith Farmer

Multi Media Power

We remember 20% of what we hear and up to 80% of what we hear,see and do.

Reading Slides

If your presentation consists of you reading your slides, one, or both of you is redundant.


Know that audience attention peaks at around seven minutes and rises again near the end.