Remember the last PowerPoint presentation you sat through? There’s a high likelihood that it didn’t keep you on the edge of your seat. In fact, for many of us, the mere mention of sitting through a presentation immediately sends us into a state of suspended boredom that we can feel days before the presentation even begins. We’ve all been there.
When it comes to bad PowerPoints or presentations created in Google Slides or Keynote, we know two things. First, these presentations will be around for a while. They’re a functional tool for communicating – what we do with that tool makes it engaging or something we can’t get through soon enough. Second, and most importantly, there are some simple things you can do to level up your presentations.
Before we go any further, let’s be clear on one thing. PowerPoint presentations have long been considered lower-tier in the marketing ecosystem. Rather than including marketing teams and creatives in their development, the design has often been left to CEOs, sales directors, and leaders in other positions who are experts in their area – but NOT in communication. The messages they’re trying to share, often with clients and internal teams, are highly important. The attention given to delivering those messages has been lacking at best.
This is something that clients are becoming increasingly aware of, and they’ve been reaching out to us and asking us for help. With that in mind, here are some of the strategies we use…
- First, you don’t need 68 pages. When it comes to delivering engaging presentations, less is more. Instead of adding page after page, could you accomplish what you want to communicate in 5, 10, or 15 slides? Ask yourself, would you want to sit through all of the pages and content you’re about to share? Yes, every morsel of information feels important to you, but stepping into your audience’s shoes, what do you want them to take away? When we get focused on the highlights and not “all of the lights,” our presentations become more memorable.
- Second, don’t type every word you’re going to say in your presentation. We can hear, and frankly, if you’re going to type it all anyway, send it in an email. Plus, if all your words are on every slide, we’re just going to read ahead. Again, less is more. We recently had an example of this come through the office, and we simplified it with short bullet points that the presenter could share more about in their presentation.
- You don’t need to put everything on one page. Yes, there is a time to add some pages. There are moments when you can take two ideas and put them on two separate pages rather than overpacking two thoughts onto one page. We saw an example the other day where a client had three charts/graphs on one page, all small. To fix this, we put each chart on its own page to be viewable and readable.
- Include some white space. Resist the urge to pack every inch of every page with stuff. Imagine your PowerPoint page like an elevator… It’s uncomfortable for everyone when it gets crowded with too many people. When you leave some extra space, there’s room to breathe. Your PowerPoint is the same.
- Ease up on the transition, animations, and sound effects. We’re repeating this a lot, but again, less is more. Yes, these add-ons can feel really clever and make it seem like you’re leveraging all of PowerPoint’s features. That said, there’s a fine line between an active presentation and a cheesy one. Too much can become a distraction, quickly degrading your ability to get people to pay attention.
Above all, make sure your PowerPoint is telling a story. Give it some structure with an introduction, main points, and a conclusion. In your intro, let people know what main points you’re going to be talking about. Then, in your conclusion, remind them of the main points you discussed.
At OrangeBall, we take a “Simple Done Well” approach to all of our work, and this take on PowerPoint is just one example of what that looks like. It’s also an area where we see businesses struggle every day, so we’re sharing this quick take on how to strengthen your presentations. There’s no rocket science here, just some easy things you can do today to change how you deliver content to your audience.
Have an honest conversation with yourself and your teams, assessing your presentations using the areas we shared above. PowerPoint presentations don’t have to be something we dread, but changing this begins with being intentional about making them shine.