You’re doing great! It’s about 2 minutes into your speech and you’ve never felt more confident.
You started with a strong opening and, just as practiced, you stepped away from the podium to take advantage of the large stage. You have been looking up behind you to draw the audience’s attention to your PowerPoint slide with it’s bright colors and clear bullet list of points you are making.
You turn to make eye contact with your audience and – what? — they are all looking down at their phones or whispering to each other.
Your confidence goes out the open window and you lose your place. You struggle to regain the audience’s attention and barley make it through your presentation, speeding through the words so you can get off the stage.
You worked really hard to plan your speech and make sure your audience could keep up with you through your slides.
You know that visuals are an important tool to engage your audience. You’ve read up on public speaking tips and thought you had all the bases covered.
Let’s take a look at why PowerPoint presentations sometimes fail and what you can do to prevent it from happening to you.
- – What is the purpose of a slide in a speech? It shouldn’t serve as a teleprompter, causing you to turn your back on the audience for extended periods of time. If you’re going to use slides, make sure they are there to simply emphasize or illustrate a point you’re making. A single bold image will have much more impact than a paragraph of text.
- – How much is too much? There should never be more than six words on a slide and the font size should be larger than 30 pt so your audience can see it easily. Try not to use more than one slide for every major point you are making.
- – Color, if you need to use it, should be simple and there for a reason. It should highlight or emphasize an element of the slide. Too many colors are a distraction.
- – Image quality counts. Choose your images carefully. The stock graphics that come with PowerPoint are tired and outdated. Make sure the image you choose is sharp and clearly relates to the point you are making.
Finally, think about when you will display the image. If you have selected a good one, put it up just as you transition to a new point in your speech. Use it to grab your listeners’ attention and make them curious about what you’re planning to tell them.
Then make your point and tie the image to your idea. Helping them associate you and your idea with an image makes it easier for them to remember you later.
PowerPoint slides and visuals in general are a great way to keep your audience focused as you move through your speech. Just don’t let them take your place as the center of attention.
Try taking a recent speech you gave or one that is coming up and review these tips to improve your results. Let me know what you think.
I would love to hear about your success and challenges in using PowerPoint in your presentation!