4 ways to make your point with PowerPoint

When you create a PowerPoint presentation, you should have some key takeaways that you want the audience to understand, absorb, and remember long after the projector is turned off. Wait, before you pull out every PowerPoint trick you've ever learned, here's what most professional designers recommend:

Do as little as possible.

Unless you're one of those designers, it's probably the opposite of what you'd think, right? Most normal people are tempted to dive into PowerPoint’s toolbox of special effects to make that important bullet point fly across the screen, and maybe even add a sound effect.

The problem with this approach is that it’s easily overdone. In most circles, they've become cliché. Over use them a lot and they quickly become annoying – like TYPING IN ALL CAPS. You might even get laughs! In any case, they become a distraction. People notice the effects but miss your important point.

So what do you do to make your most important slide stand out from the other slides?

1. Just state it, simply and clearly. Don’t use bullets. Instead, summarize your important point in just a few words, and place those words – all by themselves – on a slide. Think of how much attention they will draw now! When was the last time you saw a slide without any clutter? Put supporting information on subsequent slides and, if there is deep reference material, move it to an appendix section at the end or...

2. Make handouts. Too many people try to make their slides look like a page of notes. This usually forces the font size down so far that your audience feels like they're reading the bottom line of an eye chart. Don’t make your audience copy down your key points (for one thing, they'll miss number 2 while jotting down point 1).

3. Use color carefully. Color on slides is a controversial issue. For one thing, you should consider that some of your audience may have color blindness (as much as 10 percent of men and a smaller amount of women). Some people may not be able to notice that you’ve used a different color to make something stand out, and a few may not be able to read it all!

If you use an accent color, make sure it has a different brightness than the rest of your text. One tip is to imagine your slide in black and white. The accented text should still stand out and not be surrounded by other colors that may confuse color blind viewers.

4. Recap key points. As with any good presentation, you should begin by giving an overview of what you will cover and end by summarizing the most important information. It’s not as flashy as sound effects and dramatic wipes, but it gets your point across.

And isn’t that the point?


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