10 Simple Presentation Tips for Professionals

by Tim Clukey

Tim ClukeyThroughout your life there can be many circumstances that require you to stand in front of a group (large or small) to present your ideas/sentiments on a topic. The stakes may be high or low depending on the occasion and the outcome of your efforts. The appreciation of a small group of friends, a grade in a college course, a raise, or even a large contract award may be dependent on your delivery. You can greatly increase the potential success of your presentation (provided your ideas are sound/worthy) by incorporating simple delivery techniques in your media.

Whether you opt to use PowerPoint, Prezi, SlideRocket, or any one of the other dozen or so presentation programs that exist, the effectiveness of your delivery can be increased when you're sitting down to put things together on the screen. There are tried and true elements you can include to increase your ability to communicate with your audience. Likewise, there are many items that can sabotage your delivery efforts -- that you can easily avoid.

Follow the guidelines below when you're constructing your presentation. Refer to the Include/Avoid list and make edits as necessary. When you think you're done, see how your presentation stacks up by evaluating your work with the checklist included at the end.

FIVE ITEMS TO INCLUDE

1. Use Images/Diagrams

  • Use more images than text in your presentation.
  • Images can set the tone of your content and convey ideas more clearly.
  • It's especially helpful to use appropriate images on your "Title" slide as this
  • may be projected for an extended period of time.
  • Make sure your images have a purpose/help to focus your ideas, but be selective.
  • Avoid using images merely for decorations. They must serve a purpose/have meaning.

2. Use Contrastcontrast-fonts

  • Use light-colored text on a dark background (preferred) or dark-colored text on a light background.
  • There should always be a marked contrast between the colors you choose for the text and the color of the background.
  • When you incorporate a clear contrast between the text and background, it makes it easier to read and doesn't create eye strain.

3. Use Text Fonts/Sizes that Make it Easy to Read

  • Use fonts that were designed for screen/projector use (as opposed to print).
  • Georgia & Tahoma fonts were designed with screen/projector use in mind.
  • By using common fonts (and avoiding fancy, computer-specific fonts) you won't run into a problem that could reposition all of your text -- making it difficult to read. (If you want a specific font for a title -- build a .Gif. And if you don't know what that means -- just stick with the more popular fonts you already have.)
  • Use font sizes that are 28 points or higher to make it easier to read and to avoid eye strain.
  • Use upper case for titles only. There should be no 'shouting' text in your body content.

4. Use Bullets PROPERLY to Convey the Highlights/Headlines

Follow the 6 x 6 Rule for using Bullets

  1. Don't use more than 6 words per bullet (okay, 7-8 tops) (Don't use complete sentences, and when possible use action words)
  2. Don't use more than 6 bullets per slide (If you have more than 6, break it into two slides)
  3. Reveal each bullet one at a time -- as you cover them (This applies to charts/diagrams as well)
    • Following this rule helps you to avoid putting all your text onscreen
    • Following this rule helps your audience to stay with you as you discuss each item (and they won't have the option of reading ahead of you).

spell-check 5. Use Spell-check! (always)

  • Use the spell-check feature. - Nothing detracts from your credibility with an audience more than poor spelling.
  • If the software you're using doesn't have this option, copy your text into a program that does -- and check your work. If that's not an option, have two other people proof your work.

NEXT: FIVE ITEMS TO AVOID in your presentations

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