7 Keys to Creating Engaging PowerPoint Presentations

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After being subjected to so many dull and lengthy PowerPoint presentations it’s no wonder the saying “Death by PowerPoint” has become so popular. Let’s face it, nobody enjoys lengthy and dry slide shows, so how can you make sure you’re not guilty of causing death by PowerPoint? Here are 7 keys to creating more engaging PowerPoint presentations.

1. Create an outline first.
Before even building the first slide, decide what your overall message should be for the presentation. Create some speaking points in a Word document, or even in a notebook so that you have a framework for each slide. Then build your presentation one slide at a time. Don’t forget to give your message a storyline structure with a clear introduction, supporting points and summary or conclusion.

2. Don’t overdo the bullets.
Bullet points are only meant to trigger each idea, and not list every single thing you will say. You don’t want your audience to be busy reading so much text, that they won’t listen to your presentation at all! Keep it short and precise to keep their attention.

3. Stick to professional design templates.
The appearance of your presentation will affect the audience’s feelings about you and your message. If your presentation style or artwork looks outdated or stale, they may think that your ideas are stale too! Avoid the temptation to build your own theme with a collection of random graphics that you think look cute. Unless you are skilled at graphic design, a custom theme that looks professional is difficult to create. Within PowerPoint, you can choose from a variety of design templates that Select designs that are contemporary and appealing. There are also several templates available online that you can download and use for your presentation.

4. Don’t overdo the special effects.
There are dozens of text animations and transition effects available in PowerPoint. These effects can bring life to your slides, but if overdone, will become a distraction from your message. A good rule of thumb is to not incorporate more than 2 different types of text effects throughout the presentation. Keeping it simple allows people to get into a comfortable rhythm as you move from one slide to the next.

5. Make text easy to read.
Always be sure to have high contrast between your slide background, and the color of the text. If your background is white, use dark text, and if you are using a dark theme, select light text (white is always a good choice). Also, avoid fonts that are too fancy or intricate (such as Brush Script) and select a font type that has clean lines (such as Arial or Calibri).

6. Avoid clutter.
Resist the temptation to overload each slide with wall-to wall text and several images. If your audience starts to experience information overload, they may misunderstand the purpose of the slide and get confused about your core message.

7. Be selective about using images.
Images have the capacity to make or break a presentation. Some images (like very old clipart) can make your presentation look outdated. Whereas more contemporary images (such as high resolution photos) can add drama and excitement. The right images can invoke emotion or spark curiosity. Be sure to balance your presentations so that roughly half of the slides have images.

Following the guidelines above are a good framework for creating clear and visually appealing presentations. Keep each slide viewer-friendly with modern images, minimal text and simple transitions. These elements will go a long way in establishing your credibility and holding the attention of your audience. For more guidelines for creating effective PowerPoint presentations, buy our PowerPoint 2016 Quick Reference Guide.

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