First a disclaimer. No matter how great your PowerPoint slides are, your presentation will fail if you do not have good preparation. In all my articles, I keep stressing the fact that PREPARATION is the key to all great presentations. The trouble with all professionals (me included) is that they are so pressed for time that they leave preparing for their presentations to the last minute. This is detrimental and will often jeopardize your effectiveness. Always leave enough time to prepare for your presentation. Consider it as an investment of your time, rather than a waste. So make sure you have put in some hours to prepare for that presentation. OK back to PowerPoint Slides. Great PowerPoint presentations incorporate three immutable pillars.
1. A “Bull’s Eye” Message.
The first pillar is that of a “Bull’s Eye” message. A “Bull’s Eyes” message is a compelling message that is targeted and straight to the point. Many a times what happen is that a presenter would open up a PowerPoint template and start typing furiously, churning out random information and knowledge. This is called information dump and rarely grabs your audience or produces a successful result. To avoid the disastrous presentation results from an information dump you must know the audience at the back of your hand. Do a thorough research on them. What is their demographic make-up, what information do they need, why are they listening to my presentation, what do they want to get out of it and what do I want them to do after hearing my presentation. Thinking through these questions will allow you to sharpen you message and hit the “Bull’s Eye”!
2. Picture Speaks A Thousand Words
Having dynamic graphics is the second pillar of a great PowerPoint presentation. Unless you are a polished graphic artist, the next best alternative is to hire one. It could be your wisest investment, when you consider the financial stakes of success or failure. But if your budget is tight, there are numerous template companies that offer attractive backgrounds for your slide design. Just do a Goggle search and you will find lots of good ones around. But remember, stay away from the designs with rich graphics that might overpower your message. Look for simple backgrounds that communicate professionalism. Another suggestion is to use professional images or photographs that you can purchase inexpensively via the Web (Getty Images and IstockPhoto are good resources to look at) that will compliment your slides.
3. Three Little Pigs
Three Little Pigs is in my view the most remembered fairy tale of all. Why is that so? That is because of The Rule of Three. The Rule of Three is our third immutable pillar of great PowerPoint presentations. The Rule of Three is one of the oldest in the book – Aristotle wrote about it in his book Rhetoric. Put simply it is that people tend to easily remember three things. Remember as a kid when your mum sent you down to the shop to buy a number of things. But when you got to the shop all you could remember were three things. This is the rule of three. Translating all these to our PowerPoint presentations it means the audience is likely to remember only three things from your presentation. Hence you need the structure of your PowerPoint slides should centered only around three themes. There should only be three bullet points in your slides. Use only three sections in your slides etc. In summary, use a list of three wherever possible.