Planning your PowerPoint

October 9th, 2006 by Kat Kingsley-Hughes

Today I’m starting a series of posts that I’ve put together from an online class that I recently taught for CNETBetter Presentations with PowerPoint 2003 .

If you’re planning your presentation it’s best to start with your content.

I know it’s easy to think that designing a pretty slide background or a template is a good start but the trouble with that approach is that you end up staring at a blank page (albeit a nicely designed one! ;-)) but it’s still blank nonetheless! So start by thinking about what you want to say.

For big subjects I create a mind map to help me visualise how it breaks down. You can either use a big sheet of paper or software (I find Mind Manager invaluable for this!)

I then take my major subject headings and those become the major sections of my presentation. Bullet points under the subject headings become slides within that section (or bullet points, depending on how many there are). What will your major sections and subject headings be?

If I’m speaking (and using the Powerpoint presentation as notes for this) my approach is to plan what I’m going to say, rather than what my audience will see. If I’m creating a Powerpoint presentation that will speak for itself (either with a recorded soundtrack or purely using text) I start by trying to get wording that is as clear and concise as possible for each slide.

Some Tips for Planning your Powerpoint!

  • Decide whether you will be speaking alongside your Powerpoint or whether it has to standalone (either with text on the screen or a recorded narration).
  • Think about who your audience will be. This will help you decide where to pitch your presentation as well as deciding what multimedia elements can be included.
  • If you are speaking, then your content will only be notes to summarize, illustrate or otherwise aid what you are presenting. It shouldn’t be exactly what you’re going to say!
  • Keep points short and to the point. Ideally no more than 3 points. Preferably no more than 2 words each.
  • Although having said that, don’t make a whole slide out of 3 bullet points that you will cover in a few seconds as you will find it difficult to change slides quick enough to keep up with the flow of your speech. Instead, can you use a single word to summarize all three?
  • Think about the size of the screen and or the room where you will be presenting. This will affect how much content you can put onto one slide (Adjust your font sizes accordingly if necessary but bear in mind what’s the smallest font size you can see from the back of the room!)
  • Remember! The most important function of your PowerPoint is to give your audience somewhere to look while you speak and to focus their attention! So concentrate on keeping text to a minimum. Use an image, graph or diagram if you can to replace a lot of text.
  • If you want to keep their attention on what you’re saying consider placing a single emotive image that will capture their attention and help to create empathy with what you’re saying.

Do you agree or disagree with my comments? Have you got any tips of your own to add?

This entry was posted on Monday, October 9th, 2006 at 3:17 pm and is filed under PowerPoint. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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