When used correctly, PowerPoint presentations can be a great way to support a speech, help the audience visualize concepts, and capture attention. However, poorly designed slides can do just the opposite. Too much text or distracting images can leave the audience feeling bored, confused, and even irritated. Slideshows are intended to help audiences follow along by producing visual interest. Here are some helpful tips to make certain your PowerPoint is a visual aid and not a visual distraction.
Keep the Design Simple
When it comes to effective PowerPoint presentations, less is more. Choose a simple design template that creates consistency in your slides without being distracting. Choose text fonts and background colors that make your presentation easy to read and pleasant to look at. Large, simple fonts along with a dark text on a light background is your best bet for visibility.
Choose the Right Size Font
Picking the right size font is one of the most important parts of designing an effective PowerPoint. You want your audience to be able to read your slides from anywhere in the room. To test this, try choosing a font and then testing it out at the presentation venue to be sure the text is legible.
Follow the 5/5/5 Rule
You want to avoid text heavy slides that overwhelm your audience and keep your text and bullet points short and sweet. Some experts suggest using the 5/5/5 rule: no more than five words per line of text, five lines of text per slide, or five text-heavy slides in a row. Remember that your PowerPoint is only intended to supplement what you are saying. Your entire presentation should not be on the slides.
Avoid Cheesy Clip-Art and Animations
While some visuals can add interest to your presentation, others can really detract from it. For instance, stay away from clip-art images. These look unprofessional and childish and make you lose credibility as a presenter. In addition, no one wants to sit through a presentation where every letter of every paragraph zooms across the screen. Complicated animations and irritating transitions do more harm than good. If you choose to incorporate images, make sure they are high quality and reinforce your message.
Use Visuals to Show Data
One time that you should definitely incorporate visuals into your slideshow is when you are presenting data. It is much easier to communicate data by using graphs, charts, or other visuals rather than through text.
Limit the Number of Slides
Make sure you only have the amount of slides you actually need. Consider the amount of time you have to present and avoid flipping through too many slides and rushing through the presentation. This distracts the audience from your core message and it makes it all the more difficult to follow along. A good rule of thumb is no more than one slide per minute.