Pointers For Using PowerPoint Presentations Properly

If ever there was a tool that could add so much to your public speaking, yet can also be the biggest downfall for a public speaker, then PowerPoint is that tool. Debate has been raging whether you should use PowerPoint presentations or not in your speech – some speakers swear by this program, whilst others won’t go near it.

Personally, I like to use PowerPoint presentations in my speeches as I believe that it adds value to my speech. However, I do understand the reasoning behind why you shouldn’t use PowerPoint displays. If they are done correctly, they can turn a low-quality amateur speech into a high-quality professional one. However, if used incorrectly, the consequences are catastrophic.

Therefore, I have compiled five simple pointers on how to improve your PowerPoint presentations. I have tried to ignore the obvious ones i.e. make sure that the text on your PowerPoint is big enough so everyone in the audience can read it, and give you pointers that I find some public speakers are doing incorrectly.

Point 1 – Talk to Your Audience, Not to the PowerPoint

If you are continually looking at your PowerPoint when you are speaking publicly, you are not going to connect with your audience. Generally speaking, when you are using a PowerPoint, it is displayed behind you. Therefore, if you are talking to your PowerPoint, then you are going to have your back to the audience. Your audience will very quickly get bored of looking at the back of your head! Also your voice is not being directed at your audience, therefore it will be harder to hear. So if you want to deliver an effective speech, remember to talk to your audience, not to the wall.

Point 2 – Don’t Read from your PowerPoint/Don’t Let the Audience Read from your PowerPoint

Your PowerPoint should not contain chunks of text on it, which are the exact same words that you are presenting in your speech. Your PowerPoint should contain dot points, pictures, diagrams, charts or other visual representations. Your audience came to hear you deliver a speech, not read large chunks of text off a wall. Consider your PowerPoint to be the notes that your audience would write down, not the textbook that they would read.

Point 3 – Don’t Let Your Power Point Distract Your Audience to a Point that they are not Listening to You

If there is too much happening in your PowerPoint, then your audience’s attention is going to be distracted, therefore they will not be focusing on you and your message. That is why I recommend that you only use pictures and not movies during your public speech. Also, try and leave the picture/slide on the screen for a bare minimum of 60 seconds average.

Point 4 – Don’t Use Sound Effects

There is no point having all these crashes for each slide transition and a whoosh every time a paragraph comes on screen. It is just too complicated and pointless. Now I have no problems if, during your public speech, you do a couple of sound effects to get the audiences attention i.e. sound of the cash register just before you talk about money, but don’t overdo it. Try to limit your sound effects to no more than ten per speech, regardless of length.

Point 5 – Don’t Rely On Your PowerPoint So Much That You Cannot Deliver Your Speech Without It

Technology has a habit of not working when you need it to work! Regardless of whether you have a multi-million dollar technology budget or not, you cannot rely on technology! Therefore, there is no excuse for you to not to be able to deliver your speech if technology fails you. You should be able to effectively explain all of your visuals during your speech.

If you are uncertain whether you should include something in your speech or not, always remember the KISS theory – Keep It Short and Sweet or Keep It Simple Stupid. Remember that your PowerPoint is an aide, but not essential to your speech. The message that you are trying to convey in your public speaking should come from you, not your PowerPoint.

Comments are closed.