How to Make A PowerPoint Presentation That Doesn’t Suck

PowerPoints are a necessary evil of the college experience. The tedious process of putting together an informative and professional slideshow that won’t put the whole class straight to sleep can sometimes be difficult for students.

Here are some common mistakes people make with PowerPoint presentations and how to fix them.

Problem: Too wordy

Your slides are filled with so many words that they look like the Rosetta Stone. This is a sure way to lose people’s attention during your presentation.

Solution: Minimize!

The old cliché “show, don’t tell,” holds true with presentations, especially when it comes to PowerPoint. A PowerPoint presentation is not supposed to feel like a book. There’s no reason to clutter up slides with unnecessary words. Keeping it simple, especially with text, goes a long way when it comes to PowerPoint.

It’s important to note that more often than not, PowerPoint serves as a visual aid. The speaker should be conveying the majority of the information orally. If there is important information that your audience needs to read, print out some handouts for them to refer to later.

Remember that it’s always a good idea to use media along with text. Embedding short (and relevant) videos into a PowerPoint presentation is a great way to keep people engaged. This can also give you a much-needed break from speaking.

Problem: Typos

There’s no credibility killer as innocent, severe, and easy to avoid as a typo.

Solution: Edit, then edit again

Typos are inevitable. We’re only human, and technology’s gift to modern academia — spellcheck — is both a blessing and a curse. Don’t rely on spellcheck to catch your grammatical faux pas. Make sure you go over your spelling with care. It helps to have a peer look it over for this process.

Problem: Parroting

If you’re repeating everything that’s on your PowerPoint slide to your audience, word for word, there is no reason for you to be there.

Solution: Mix it up

Use index cards to write extra information that goes deeper into the material covered on the PowerPoint slides to refer to while presenting. This not only makes for a better presentation, but the presenter comes off more knowledgeable about the topic as well.

Problem: Boring layouts

It’s easy to keep that standard black and white template when making a PowerPoint, but this will work against you. It looks thrown together and boring.

Solution: Get creative

There are plenty of templates to choose from when creating a PowerPoint. There’s no need to turn it into a full-fledged cinematic event, but adding the extra touch will impress your audience. Also, don’t feel confined to the walls defined by Microsoft’s software. There are other good-looking presentation websites and platforms that serve the same purpose of PowerPoint but with added features, such as Prezi.

Problem: Clip Art

We’ve all seen the stock images given to you by PowerPoint at one point or another. In 1995, these were impressive. Today, not anymore.

Solution: Don’t use it.

Just don’t.

Sources:

Wuorio, J. (2011, January 1). Presenting with PowerPoint: 10 dos and don'ts. Retrieved September 30, 2014, from microsoft.com

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