By Ho Khin Wai, 1st Year, Diploma in Banking & Financial Services
The new semester has just begun and we are back to flipping those pages again! Soon enough, students will be loaded with tutorials and assignments, not forgetting the projects we have to complete. We may do up very detailed and comprehensive reports, but when it comes to the presentation part, many of us don’t pay enough attention to it. Fairly often, my schoolmates would do up their “quick-and-easy” PowerPoint slides only few days before their presentation, and are satisfied with it.
While it is true presentations only carry little weightage out of the whole project, that isn’t the case in the working world. In fact, pitches and presentations are the key to clinching major business deals or just simply to share an experience with others. Moreover, having good, powerful presentations engages your audience, which means a possibility of a higher grade.
With that in mind, I offer you ten tips on how to deliver stunning and intriguing presentations…
#10 No Bullet Points
This might seem shocking, but bullet points kill your presentations. According to Mr Farhad Manjoo, a technology columnist at Slate.com, bullet points turn your presentations into a series of boring lists. Worse, because you don't have much room on each slide, the lists will contain clipped sentences and abbreviations that will confuse your audience. Then, if you include a lot of bullets, you're bound to start reading them out to the audience, which is the worst sin in Powerpoint presentations.
#9 At least 30-point SIZE
Former Apple Macintosh chief evangelist Guy Kawasaki believes that words on a slide should have at least a 30-point font. This “forces you to know your material” and only include the core details in the slide, while achieving better readability for your audience.
#8 Cut down on effects!
Too many effects and animations will distract your audience. This will cause them to lose focus of what you’re saying (essentially, the message). However, a presentation without effects will also leave the impression that the presentation is boring and static. Hence, the ideal PowerPoint presentation should have minimal effects, and they should be used meaningfully.
#7 Colour management
Have you ever come across presentations which have text that you just can’t make out because of the bad choice in colour? I’m talking about something like this:
So, choose your colours wisely!
#6 Less is More
Albert Einstein once said, “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough”. Having a whole chunk of text right off your report isn’t going to get you a good score. Same goes for wholesale copying of text right off websites (that is illegal, by the way). Ideally, you should have minimal text on your slides, even for a topic that entails a great amount of information.
#5 Make statistical data meaningful
Numbers do not mean much, unless they are placed in context with the topic of the presentation. Presenters must be able to “connect the dots” with the audience. One example would be in a keynote by the late Mr Steve Jobs, where he announced:
“We have sold four million iPhones to date. Divide four million by 200 days, that is twenty-thousand iPhones every day on average”.
Planning is probably the most important step to create a successful presentation. There are essentially two things to plan – (a) Content of your slides, (b) Your speech. Focus your presentation on something your audience doesn’t know. Leave out what they already know. If your presentation is about taking sides in an argument, or why one option is better than the other, make sure your slides concur from the first to the last.
#3 Know your content well
This needs little explanation. If you know your content well, you will be able to confidently deliver a clear message to your listeners.
#2 Avoid Monotony
A monotonous tone will bore your listeners and causes them to lose focus on the presentation. Vary your PACE, VOLUME and PITCH, and be sincere and enthusiastic about what you say. Much of the emotions of the speaker are contained within the speaker’s tonality. Varying tonality will add emphasis and interest to the presentation.
#1 Rehearse, and rehearse again
It doesn’t matter if you’re doing it alone, or in a group. Rehearse your pitch repeatedly until you can reel it off without using notes. While it isn’t a sin to read off a script or flashcard, it gives listeners confidence that you know what you’re talking about.