Are you stuck with what you believe is a boring or even an uninteresting presentation? And now that your boss insists that you largely stay with the existing topic, what can you do? It turns out you can do a lot. In fact, you’ll need to work on not one but three distinct areas to make your PowerPoint, Prezi, Google Slides, or Apple Keynote presentations more effective and less boring. Here are the three areas:
- Make the content interesting
- Make the content attractive
- Make the content engaging
We will look at these three areas, one at a time.
1. Make the Content Interesting
To make the content interesting, you first need to be interested in the content! Make sure that you, as a speaker, are in sync with your slides.
Make the content interesting
That’s easier said than done because you can only be in sync with your slides if you:
- Know what exactly is on every slide.
- You must know what’s on every slide. You must know your entire deck of slides like the back of your hand. Are you confident enough to state similar facts about your deck:
- The table that compares our product or service with that of the competitor is on slide 6.
- The timeline is on slide 8.
- Did you know that if you are on slide 4 and you need to skip slides 5 through 7 and go straight to slide 8, you can quickly press the number 8 on your keyboard and then immediately press the Enter key? Be up to speed with similar keyboard shortcuts.
- To learn about more keyboard shortcuts, get a copy of our PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts ebook.
- Have been part of the slide creation process?
- You really cannot know your slides, or even believe in the content, unless you have been part of the slide creation process.
- You may be fortunate enough to have a secretary, colleague, or even an external design agency create slides for you, but if you had zero involvement with the slide creation, then there will be nothing from you stamped on the slides.
- It would be like you are writing some text on a piece of paper, but the handwriting won’t be yours!
- The solution to this problem is that as the presenter, you must be aware throughout of how the slides are being created, who is creating them, and you should be part of the brainstorming.
- Have practiced your slides and the timing?
- Yes, you know your slides and you were also involved with the creation. However, did you practice your slides and check how much time it takes you to deliver the content?
- Do remember that you need to account not only for explaining what is on the slides, but you also need time to interact with the audience and answer their questions. You may also want to share a personal story or an anecdote with them.
- With so much at play, even the best presenters need to practice repeatedly. And so should you!
- Are prepared for questions?
- There are two types of questions you may be asked: the expected ones and the unexpected ones.
- You can never be prepared for the latter, but you can always be well-prepared for the former. And the best part is that when you prepare for the former, you end up being better prepared for the unexpected questions too.
2. Make the Content Attractive
Many presenters try to work more in this direction because they are trying to impress rather than inform! But you need to do both. And if you can only choose one of the two, it’s better to inform than impress!
Having said so, if your content is interesting, then making it visually attractive is like the icing on a cake. The icing enhances and adds value to a cake. But no icing can help you with a cake that’s not baked well.
Make the content attractive
So how can you make your presentation attractive? Here are some ideas, but do remember, this is just the beginning:
- Keep the content clean and keep the text content to the minimum.
- Add pictures as needed, but only if they add value to your message. Just adding pictures for the sake of adding pictures will get you nowhere.
- Don’t add two or three pictures if one is enough. One large, focused picture is so much better than multiple, average-looking pictures.
- Keep your charts clean. The intention of using a chart is to provide a trend, and not put up everything: axis labels, data labels, legends, chart titles, axis titles, additional text, etc. Adding so much text works best in a tabular form. If you are creating a chart, it needs to have fewer numbers than a table.
- Use coordinated colors in your slides.
- Don’t go overboard with fonts. One or two fonts is all you need.
3. Make the Content Engaging
This is the most important part. To make your content engaging, you must be engaging.
Make the content engaging
How can you do that? Here are some guidelines that will help:
- Invite questions from the audience.
- Don’t tell your audience that you have no time for questions. If time is not available, invite them to meet you later, speak on phone, or send an email.
- Ask questions.
- Yes, you should ask questions, especially when you begin. Doing so brings you two benefits. Firstly, you will break the ice. Secondly, you will know what audience members expect from you, and you can use your time judiciously to address their concerns.
- Create slide pairs.
- A slide pair denotes two slides where the first slide has a question, a problem, a puzzle, some choices, or something similar. The subsequent slide can then provide answers and solutions that will help you lead your audience to a message. This approach also increases audience curiosity and keeps them engaged.
Certainly, these guidelines and ideas are not the only options available to you although they will get you started. Always be open to learning more.
Note from Geetesh: This post originated from an answer I provided at Quora to the question, Microsoft PowerPoint: How to make boring PowerPoint presentation effective? I worked more on the answer and extended the scope from boring to all presentations. Also, the ideas mentioned are not limited to PowerPoint alone and apply to all presentation programs.