How to Create Killer Presentation Slides

Presentation Room

In 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!YouTube

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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.

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