These tips come from years of not only training and coaching presentation skills delegates, but assessing them too. These are easily the most basic errors that inexperienced presenters make on their visuals. These errors have a catastrophic impact on audience perception and apart from immediately labeling you amateurish, will detract from your message and your outcome. These tips apply to both users of Keynote and PowerPoint. If you can eliminate these 9 errors, your visuals will look crisp and interesting.
Error 1. Too much text.
Apart from a headline, the purpose of text on a visual is to highlight main points only. Avoid long sentences and multiple bullet points.
Error 2. Small text.
If your text is too small there is probably too much of it anyway. The main problem with the font being too small is simple really – some people simply can’t read it!
Error 3. No Picture (or an insignificant one).
The purpose of a visual is to create a link to what you, the presenter are saying. Clip art is yesterday. Take your own good quality pictures and use them in your visuals. It’s also important to use just one picture per slide. Even if there a several bullet points, each slide should have a central theme, message or point, and the picture should seek to illustrate this.
Error 4. Too Many Slides.
Good presenters create pictures in the mind using words skillfully, and use a few well positioned slides to enhance the vocal message. When a visual is up, you’re telling the audience to look at the visual. When you’re finished with it, take the visual away so that the audience will look at you. While the visual is up, use only occasional gestures so that you don’t appear static.
Error 5. No Slide Free Time.
You are in fact the message, not your visuals. Slides are there to enhance your message. The time to become more animated is when no slide is up. Use strong, big meaningful gestures, mostly to describe key points. If you want to move your feet, walk purposefully. It is best to make key points standing still and using large, deliberate gestures.
Error 6. Poor Use of Remote Mouse (RM).
When, using a RM to move slides on, keep your hand still and depress the mouse button with your finger. There’s no need to wave your arm about – it wont make the RM work any better, and it indicates inexperience in the presenter. If the RM is not as responsive as it should be, change the battery!
Error 7. No Text Animation
When using bullet points, bring up the text summarizing each point as you raise it, point by point. If you blast all your text up as you start the slide, the audience may read it all instead of listening to you and you will lose them. This is exacerbated if you have too much text.
Error 8. Being too clever.
Apart from text animation, special effects seldom enhance your presentation, they usually detract from your message. Keep the visuals simple, clear and uncomplicated. Your attention on the day should be focused on speaking clearly and connecting with your audience – not doing battle with your slide show!
Error 9. Transition confusion.
Using transitions between slides is a good idea, but fix on one standard transition for the majority of your slides. It may be necessary to use a special transition occasionally, but keep these to the minimum.
The layout of the venue and your audience profile will more than likely determine whether you should sit or stand when presenting. You may have to make a call on this when you arrive depending on access to plug points, the size and shape of tables and your layout area. A good idea is to arrive early. That way, you have plenty of time to set up and prepare yourself mentally to knock their socks off!
What is of course more important, is that you achieve your desired outcome. These tips will help you do just that!