Is a widespread misconception to think that people are insterested in what are you talking about. A presentation is, first of all, a fight to get the total attention from the audience. In this post I will focus on how to improve the quality of your slides by giving you some tips. Maybe I will write something about other aspects of presentations in another post.
So, let's get started!
1: Your slides must not contain all the info
As a rule of thumb, if someone can read your slides and get all the info, then you're doing it wrong.
Your info must be split among the slides and the discourse. If one of them is missing so it is part of the info.
That's because your slides need to deliver information in a way that make your discourse lighter and easier to understand for the audience (that doesn't care about you).
2: Always add a title
No matter what is showed in that specific slide, you need to add a title to it.
If someone in the audience gets distracted at some point of your presentation, and try to return and understand your explanation, it would be better that he could see what are you talking about right now. That's the main purpose of the slide title.
Hence, you need your titles to be concise, and you need they to tell the audience what you are talking about right now. For example, "Prerequisites", "Problem definition", "State of the art", etc.
3: Minimize text, maximize images and graphs
If you want to explain an algorithm, do it by using animations and images. If you want to explain a process that has many stages, use illustrations for every stage. Your audience will appreciate that.
You now what they say: A picture is worth a thousand words. People don't want to read, they don't even want to understand you! You need to make your message important and interesting to them. And you definitely want your message to be as easy to digest as possible.
4: Keep moving
More than 10-15 secs without any change in your slide... Baaang!!! A half of the room is sleeping and the other half in their social media. Yes, your family included.
That doesn't mean you need to move from one slide to another with that frequency, just make something appear or disappear, or some animation perhaps, but keep moving. Maintain the audience engaged.
5: The 7 rule
When including text just write up to 7 lines per slide and up to 7 words per line.
Try not to exceed those limits, but you can exceed them by one or two words/lines in some special cases.
Adding too much text is bad for many reasons. We have stated earlier that people don't want to read, we (as audience) prefer other smoother channels. But another drawback related with adding too much text is explained in the next tip.
6: Don't show all the text at once
People don't want to read, but if you put some text in your slide they prefer to read it instead of paying attention to your discourse.
If you want people to keep listening to you, show the text with the info that you are talking about right now. After that, show the next line about the next topic, and so on.
When people in the audience read a lot of text from the slide, they get lost when returning to your speech. They read much faster than you speak. Just apply the brake.
7: Maintain a table of contents
Just for larger presentations
Your ideas are arranged in some order in your head. Transmit that order relation to your audience explicitly. Before and after talking about some topic, show your Table of Contents.
Make sure to highlight the next topic you will be talking about and differentiate the topics you have explained already. Use different colors and opacities maybe.
8: End your presentation with the first slide
You did it quite well! You managed to catch the attention of the audience during all the presentation. They are amazed and wondering how can they reach you. Maybe an email or some social media links? Nop, all they can see is a "Thank you", that is what your last slide says.
Always end your presentation with your very first slide, that which contains your name, the title of your presentation, and your contact info.
A presentation is not a bunch of slides. A presentation is a conception, a method you elaborate to transmit your ideas and results.
The answer to the question "Have you finished your presentation?" can be "Yes, I just have to finish my slides".
But slides can make the difference between a great and a poor presentation. When used in the right way, they can be a very effective weapon, but they also can make your presentation a total disaster if you use them badly.
I have given you some tips to make your slides an effective weapon.
Remember to approach your presentation as a fight to get attention from your audience. With that in mind, try to make your message easy to digest, and add dynamism to your slides. That's the way to maintain people engaged.
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