Presentation RoomIn a previous post, we mentioned that people tend to nod off in conference calls and how it is important to learn to conduct teleconferences better to minimize loss of time. One suggestion was to use online meeting software where you have the added benefit of presenting slides to your attendees via screen sharing, to help better engage with your audience.

This raises the question: what should you present and how can you make awesome slides which will stimulate your attendees visually? How you go about displaying your material can play a crucial role in the success of your presentation.

Today, we look at how to build killer presentation slides that will keep your participants enthralled and engaged during your meetings. These principles can be applied to both traditional face-to-face presentations and online presentations.

Hone Your Presentation Skills

Have you ever seen one of those movies that were tipped to win several Oscars, due to the fact that they were written by the best screenwriter, produced and directed by the best-in-class and starred several of the hottest stars, yet the movie failed to evoke emotion in you and turned into a massive box office flop? The same thing can happen to you: You can create a masterful presentation and the most amazing slides, but if all aspects of your presentation don’t come together, you’re bound to still put your audience to sleep.

Aside from creating killer presentation slides, ensure that you have the chops required to deliver a good presentation:

Engage Your Audience: Use stories and activities, ask questions and use their names as you work through the slides to keep your participants engaged. If you are preparing to make an online presentation, we have a free best practices guide which will help you better prepare, deliver and follow up on presentations you host over the Web.

Breathe: Deep, slow breaths inward, rather than outward “uhmmm”s and “ahhh”s are most effective and will help relax you. Breathe ‘slowly, in through your nose – hold for four seconds – then out through your mouth. Then repeat times two’. This may seem too easy to be true but according to Mick Miller, Director of Power to Present, research has shown that deep breathing will lower heart rate and respiration and will indeed help your presentation. You’ll be better off to take your time rather than rush through the content and risk your attendees missing anything.

Vocal Coaching: This is not a requirement but it’s an option if public speaking gives you the chills. If you’re going to be presenting on a regular basis, you may want to invest in vocal coaching to help you hone your voice and delivery style for more effective communication.

Businessman Presentation

7 Tips for Creating Killer Presentation Slides

Remember that, while the slides should be absolutely awesome, they are not the main event – YOU are. The slides should complement your presentation, not the other way around. Your attendees are there to listen to you talk and the slides are there to support you deliver your message.

Now that you have the basic presentation skills required, and you have put together the text for your presentation, it is time to build your slides.

1. Guy Kawasaki’s 10:20:30 Rule

Sales guru, Guy Kawasaki says that a presentation should contain 10 slides, lasting no more than 20 minutes, and the font should be no smaller than 30 points. This may sound quite limiting but he is adamant on this and it’s hard to argue against him! For his full explanation and reasons behind the 10:20:30 pitch rule, it’s worth taking 2 minutes to watch the following video where Guy explains the art of pitching – the man makes sense!


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2. 15-Word Summaries

Inexperienced presenters do one of two things:

  • They ramble on aimlessly, or
  • They rush through slides to get it over with.

Either way, they lose the attention of the audience. Therefore, you should summarize the main message for each slide in 15 words (or less!). Select the crux of your message for each slide and break it down into a short sentence and be prepared to talk in further detail about this message during the presentation. If you stuff your slides with texts and intend to read these texts to your audience, you will put them to sleep – your audience can read faster than you can speak and will be done with the slides before you are!

When it comes to text on your slides, less is more. The takeaway here is, one message per slide. Add visuals that support your message, and voila! You’ve just created a powerful slide.

3. Use an Easy-to-Read, Modern Font

The KISS (Keep it simple, stupid) rule applies to presentation slides too. Use the font that is easiest to read. Complex fonts tend to tire out the eyes and cause your audience to lose interest. Most professional online writers prefer Sans Serif fonts. This article on the best fonts to use in print, online and email has some valuable insights too. Once you have selected a font for your slides, stick with it throughout the entire presentation – consistency is best practice here.

A few years ago, it was all the rage to have black pages with yellow writing, as that was said to be most impactful… But things have changed and that’s not very attractive now. Yellow and black is the highest contrasting color combination which can be detrimental to readability. There is no set rule on which colors to use. I recommend black or white fonts on color slides, for example white font on blue slides. Mixing colors can definitely work but at times they can be an overkill, such as yellow font on red slides, and should be used cautiously.

Check out this post on different coloured fonts on different backgrounds including the black/yellow discussion before you make your decision.

4. Include Quality Visuals

Remember that people are visual learners and killer presentation slides should capitalize on this by providing enough visual stimulation to keep the audience interested.

That doesn’t mean opting for the standard clipart. Rather use quality stock images to relay your message and add emotion. Better yet, to avoid using too many obvious stock photos, use some photos of your own or screenshots of your website or product. Good images make your slides (and your message) more memorable too, so be sure to include:

  • photographs
  • logos
  • graphs
  • charts
  • infographics

Need some scientific research to support the use of images in slides? Here is some brain research on visuals for you. Robert Lane and Dr. Stephen Kosslyn recommend that we replace the text on our slides with specific rich imagery as this ‘feeds the brain what it likes to see, and allows you to communicate messages in ways not possible with words alone.’ However they warn against using images which are inserted for decorative reasons but are irrelevant to the content as they compete with the brain’s attention.

Instead select images which are aligned with the message of each slide. For example, if you are talking about how your company can save your clients time and money, you could add an image of a clock or money to the slide.

Clock and Money

5. Use Color

There are many ways in which to do this and I already touched upon it above under the fonts. Feel free to use slides with color backgrounds as these can really explode out of your presentation!

When inserting image and other visuals into your slides you might want to add text boxes on top or to the side of your visuals, in which case you might be wondering what color you should use for these boxes and fonts. Canva provides a very cool tool which helps you pick suitable colors to complement your visual.

Unlike the fonts where I suggest you keep it consistent throughout the slides, it is perfectly ok to mix up the colors a bit in your presentation for the slide background or text boxes. In fact some of the best slides I’ve seen which really catch your eye use completely different background colors to the previous slides. Again, use Canva to help guide you in picking the best colors for your needs.

Paintbrush and Keyboard

6. Avoid System Templates

While it is a good idea to create a streamlined look, it is best to avoid PowerPoint templates, which can limit your creativity. If you have a budget to spare, you may want to hire someone to create a template for you on Fiverr or oDesk. You can then adapt your template for each new presentation using a different font, changing the background color of a slide here and there, etc.

7. Include a Call-to-Action

At the end, include a closing slide or two where you recap on a couple of major points. You can also include your contact information and a call to action. For example, you might want to include a link to your website where they can find more information or a download link for where they can pick up a copy of the slides or other content.

Once you have put together your slides, be sure to do a couple of test runs to ensure that the slides match your presentation and that there’s a simple, logical flow.

When you’re ready, invite your audience to a live online meeting via Mikogo, and share your slides live while you talk them through the presentation. With a great screen sharing, online meeting software package and some killer slides, you have an affordable, engaging way to host meetings live over the Web that leave a lasting impact.