Mastering the art of the PowerPoint presentation

Pulling off an effective PowerPoint presentation involves perfecting several elements: messaging, story-line, graphic visuals, and data representation.  While this typically takes years of practice and training to master, it leads to numerous business efficiencies that are well worth the effort. However, managers and individual contributors don’t always have the luxury of time and need to quickly improve their presentation capabilities.

We looked for ways that teams can accelerate their PowerPoint presentation skills and found Laura M. Foley Design. The owner, Laura Foley, specializes in Cheating Death by PowerPoint. Laura specifically focuses on helping teams build better presentations and offers a variety of training sessions and services that can jump-start your team’s presentation capabilities. We had the chance to connect with Laura late last year and she shared some valuable advice:

Start with an outline: Many times, people begin new presentations by opening PowerPoint and designing slides. That’s like shooting a movie without a script! A better idea is to create an outline for your presentation that has an introduction that states the purpose and hoped-for outcomes of the presentation, a middle that supports your introduction, and an ending that repeats the stated goals of the presentation and provides next steps.

Reduce the amount of text on your slides: If there’s lots of text on your slides, the audience will divide their time between listening to you and reading your slides. It’s even worse if you read your slides to your audience! The slide is there to provide a backdrop to you, not to be a teleprompter or a distraction.

Simplify your messages: Try to present just one idea per slide and to simplify complex ideas so that more people understand what you’re talking about. If you’re trying to persuade people to buy your product or service or to give you resources, the last thing you want to do is to confuse them!

If you are looking to improve your presentation skills, check out Laura’s site. She’s written several blog entries with a ton of valuable information.

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