Want to create powerful presentations? Do you NEED to know how to create powerful presentations? Knowing how to create powerful presentations starts with a few basics. But first, a little story with which I’m sure you can identify.
Congratulations! Your business is taking off. You’re having great success and you’re being recognized for all your hard work. Your team is booming and they look to you as a leader. Other leaders have noticed, too. You’re now finding you have influence you didn’t know you had. And then, you get the call. You’ve been invited to share your story at an event. In front of people. Lots of people. Maybe it’s a boot camp. Maybe it’s a large regional event. Maybe…it’s the national leadership conference. Do you panic? Do you feel overwhelmed? Do you think, “Awesome! I’m ready!”? Do you begin to think about the daunting task of putting together a presentation, hoping that it truly conveys your story? Your experience? Your wisdom?
If the thought of building a Keynote or PowerPoint presentation makes you anxious, then this post is for you. Even if you’ve created presentations and delivered them to standing ovations, the information here can help you refine your presentation so that you make a more meaningful connection with your audience. Remember, the most important thing is your story, your experience, and your wisdom. Being able to clearly convey those things doesn’t have to be cause for concern. Here are:
4 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW TO CREATE POWERFUL PRESENTATIONS
Please choose to use a common font that’s easy to read. While there are many great fonts out there that evoke certain feelings and emotion, there’s a good chance choosing one that’s not very common will lead to problems with your layout when loading your presentation onto a different computer for an event.
- Common Fonts – Choosing a common font will help ensure your presentation looks the same (size, spacing, line breaks, etc.) on our presentation computer as it looks on your computer. When an uncommon font is used for your presentation, and the computer from which your presentation will be made doesn’t include that font, a substitute font will be used. This often leads to it altering the layout of text on your slides, which can alter the entire slide layout.
- Easy to Read – Choosing a font that’s easy to read means that your audience will be able to easily read the text on your slides from the front of the room, or the back of the room. Traditionally, serif fonts (think Times New Roman, Garamond, Bookman, anything with the little chunks, swirls, or other elements at the tips/edges of the letters) are designed for and better suited to printed material. Sans serif fonts (think Helvetica, Tahoma, Verdana, Arial) on the other hand, are usually much easier to read on screens.
- Suggested Fonts – These are commonly available, sans serif, and easy to read on screen.
- Arial Black
- Century Gothic
- Helvetica Neue
- Lucida Console
- Usage – Use one font throughout your presentation. Make titles and headers larger (40-60 point) and bold, and body text and bullet points smaller (22-32 point). Use italics to accentuate text in a bullet point or body text. Also, pay attention to contrast. A dark colored font on a dark background or dark image will be hard for your audience to read. Likewise, a light colored font on a light background will also be hard for your audience to read.
A picture says a thousand words, right? Choose your images carefully and make sure they support the main idea of the slide on which you’re placing them. And, bigger is definitely better. Remember, you want the back row to see and feel the emotion in the images you’re using, so make sure they’re filling the slide, or at least filling most of the slide. If you’re looking for FREE or low cost quality images, check out these sites:
- Death to the Stock Photo
- Canva – This is more than FREE and low-cost images. It is an online design tool that anyone can use to create beautiful graphics and images. Their paid images are only $1 per use/download.
LESS IS MORE; SIMPLE IS BETTER
Each slide is meant to be a visual that supports your message. Sometimes, people want to put every last bit of text that they want to communicate about a topic or idea on a single slide. Resist this urge. You’ll clutter your slide, you’ll likely fall into the pattern of reading what’s on your slide, rather than speaking from your heart, which holds your story, your experience, your wisdom. It’s IN YOU. You don’t need the slide to share your story. It’s just there, reinforcing what you already know and believe.
Now that you’ve selected the right font and the right image, it’s time to lay it all out on your slide(s). Make sure you allow for space between titles/headlines and any body text or bullets. This helps your audience quickly recognize the big picture and the supporting details. Also, think about putting the most important information in the top third of your slide(s). This will help reduce the possibility of an audience member not being able to see important elements of your presentation due to the head of the person in front of them blocking the bottom part of the screen.
The most important thing is still you and your own story. After mastering your message, focusing on these four things will help to make your presentation memorable.
- Choose a common, easy-to-read font.
- Choose a large image that reinforces your message.
- Keep your slides simple.
- Put your most important information in the top third of your slide.
I hope this information helps you create compelling, powerful presentations. Feel free to share your tips and ideas in the comments below.
Here are some really good articles from which I pulled these concepts. There is so much more information on creating powerful presentations and I highly recommend these for even more great tips.
- 10 DESIGN TIPS FOR AN EFFECTIVE KEYNOTE OR POWERPOINT PRESENTATION
- 10 Tips on How to Make Slides that Communicate Your Idea, from TED’s in-house expert
- 10 Tips for Designing Presentations That Don’t Suck: Part 1 (link to part 2 in the article)
- 10 Simple Tips for Creating Better-Looking Presentations
- 5 Rules for More Effective Presentations
- Audiovisual Presentations Made Easy(-ier): Tips for Creating an Effective PowerPoint, Prezi, or Keynote
- A guide to 44 safe fonts & 74 safe combos for PowerPoint