12 Most is a great website that boils down most topics into 12 steps, tips or suggestions.
A recent post there was particularly useful: 12 Most Pleasant Ways to Avoid PowerPoint Death by Jenny Kay Pollock. Here are her 12 points below, but click through to the post for her detailed explanation.
1. Write an engaging title and description. (I’d add that the title of each slide should also be engaging and explicit.)
2. Get personal. Tell stories, and share personal experiences.
3. Connect with social media. She suggests live tweeting during your presentation. Most people are usually too nervous to do so, but you once the preso is over, you should absolutely post it then – not just on Twitter, but Facebook, LinkedIn and other places relevant to your business and audience.
4. Leverage photos. People remember more and longer when you use pictures/visuals over words/text.
5. Poll the audience in real time. Pollock is social media specialist, so it’s no surprise she’s big on social media during presentations. You don’t have to use SMS Poll or other social tools – it’s perfectly OK to simply ask the audience the key questions and respond in real time.
6. Use animations and transitions. Two universal rules of thumb: 1) one animation per slide, and 2) visuals move – words do not.
7. Get specific. Don’t just show the audience a URL to a website, show the website itself. If you have internet access, go live.
8. Give your audience tips. She recommends something called “10 tips in 10 minutes.” You can make it easy on yourself by simply giving your audience easy, actionable tips throughout your presentation. Generally, tips are good because it’s helpful for you to cut your presentation down to the key messages, just in case your audience is distracted.
9. Connect your vision to figures of prominence. It’s great to use prominent figures, but ordinary people – especially the voice of the customer – is better. And yes, quotes are great (especially when they’re unusual, not the old chestnuts). Testimonials are better (again, use messages directly from your audience. Videos of people actually speaking are best of all.
10. Get the audience involved. If you have the chance to get people doing things – great. If the environment or topic don’t allow for break-outs, give your audience hand0outs, something to handle – like props, samples, mood boards, storyboards, products, etc.
11. Inject some humor into the presentation. Humor is a double-edged sword. It’s great if it fits the topic, and you’re 101% sure if’s actually funny. The best target of humor is always yourself, especially when it shows you’re human and real – but not a buffoon.
12. Have something to giveaway related to the topic. Free swag and prizes are great if they’re possible. If they’re not available or relevant, you can try simplified versions of your presentation or follow-up emails with a link to your preso online. A good friend of mine who gives countless presentations takes the time to reduce their presentation down to a one-pager which he also makes available on a SharePoint site on the company’s intranet.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen someone do while giving a PowerPoint presentation, either at an external function or internally in a group meeting?