Designing PowerPoint to Captivate Your Audience
by Allan Misch
How many times have you said to yourself, “Oh no, another boring, dull PowerPoint presentation?” You know, the kind that makes you fall asleep with slide after slide of never-ending bullet points, paragraphs of text and capitalized text.
Or do you sometimes feel like you’re drowning in a sea of animated text slides that make you boiling mad? You’ve seen them, slides that have every animated text trick in the book — fly-ins; zooms; and the hated typewriter animation, where every letter, of every word, of every line appears as if it was being typed (with an accompanying typewriter clicking sound). This one makes me want to have a major nervous breakdown rather than sit through the rest of the presentation!
Are you tired of seeing the same old slides that have a poor, low-quality graphic thrown in that breaks up the monotony of the other text-intensive slides? Unfortunately for you, the graphic doesn’t appear to have anything to do with the point of the slide, adds another distraction to the presentation and makes you want to throw the laptop at the presenter.
This doesn’t have to be the way your audience feels about your PowerPoint presentation. You can join the small handful of business presenters who engage and galvanize their audience with vivid, easy-to-follow, eye-opening slide presentations. Each of their slides contains a main message; little or no bullet points or subtext; and sizzling, compelling graphics that illustrate the slide’s point.
You can have PowerPont slides like their’s. Just be B-O-L-D. Here’s how.
B — Begin by Designing Your Oral Presentation
First, organize and outline your presentation. Your outline should have all the ideas and points for your presentation’s opening, body, and close. Plan on having a slide for each idea and point.
Then, on a blank page in Word, write a headline that describes each idea and point. Separate each headline by a hard return, so you have only 1 headline on each line. Save the Word file with an appropriate name such as WidgetSlideHeadlines.docx.
The headlines will be the titles of your slides. Headlines should have a subject and predicate. They should have from 2 to 14 words that fit on no more than 2 lines of 40-point text on your PowerPoint slide.
For example, if you want to discuss the 5 benefits of your product, you probably would have a slide that’s titled “Benefits.” Now that’s dull! Using the B-O-L-D approach, you would write an engaging headline: “5 reasons why the Apex widget will rack up your profits.” (Don’t put headlines within quotation marks unless you’re using a quote as a headline.) Next…
O — Open Up PowerPoint and Create a Slide Template
Avoid using the templates that come with PowerPoint. Most of them tempt you to create cookie-cutter type slides that wind up bullet-point- or text-intensive.
Create a master slide with only a Title text placeholder. The text should be a sans serif font such as Calibri, Arial or Verdona. The size should be 40 points. The color should be black. Delete the placeholder for bullet-point text. Avoid using headers, footers and logos on slides, unless it’s company policy to include a company logo on each slide. You can save this template in your templates folder. Give it an appropriate name such as BoldPresentation.potx. Then…
L — Lay In Your Headlines and Create Your Speaker Notes
From within Word, export the headlines file (WidgetSlideHeadlines.docx) to PowerPoint. PowerPoint will create a file with slides that have your headlines as titles.
Next, open up your template file (BoldPresentation.potx) as a PowerPoint document. Copy the slides containing your headlines to the file created from the BoldPresentation.potx template. Name this PowerPoint file (for example, WidgetPresentation.pptx).
If you don’t want to go the importing route, you can open up the PowerPoint template as a document, switch to Outline view and type your headlines there. Save the file.
Then, switch to Notes view. Notes view shows a picture of the slide with your headline in the top portion of the page and room for notes in the bottom part of the page. Put all your text, notes, and bullet points in the bottom part of the page. Do this before you work on your slides. When you finish, you will have the notes and bullet points for your entire presentation. Be sure to save your file every few minutes. Now it’s time to…
D — Design Your PowerPoint Slides with Riveting Graphics and Color
Switch to Slide view. Find an appropriate picture, clip art or other graphic that illustrates the point of the slide, and place it on the slide. Make it big, covering the entire slide if
Vary the placement and color of the headline depending on the characteristics of the graphic. For example, if the graphic is light at the bottom and dark at the top, move the dark text to the bottom of the slide. You also can leave the headline at the top but change the color from black to white. If your graphic doesn’t fill the entire slide, you can move it to one side. Then move your headline to the other side so it fills up several lines on one-third or half of the slide.
Use different background colors on your slides. Use a background color on a slide that compliments the colors in your graphic and headline. Use the same background color for slides that cover a major point and another background color for slides that cover a different major point.
If you need to include minimal text to compliment your graphic, create a text box with a sans serif font that’s the same as or compliments your title text. The text size should be 32 points.
After you design the slides, add a presentation title slide in front of your first slide. Then, make your slide transitions subtle and simple. Consider using a more dramatic transition, such as a Wheel or Wipe, when moving from your opening to your body and your body to your close. Use another transition when moving from the last slide of one major point to the first slide of another major point.
Switch to Notes view. You now have a page with your finished slide at the top and your notes and bullet points at the bottom. Go to the header and footer of your Notes view and set up your header and footer if appropriate. Then, print the Notes pages for your speaker notes. You also can print them as handouts for your audience.
If you want a different set of notes for your handout, copy the file, rename it, change the notes, then print it. Your audience will have copies of your outstanding slides and all the bullet points and text that you’d normally see on those dull, send-you-to-dreamland slides that you’re used to seeing.
So capture your audiences and be B-O-L-D. First, begin by designing your oral presentation. Then, open up PowerPoint and create a slide template. Next, lay in your headlines and create your speaker notes. Finally, design your slides with riveting graphics and color.
Your PowerPoint presentations often spell the difference between failure and success. If you’re tired of the same old humdrum slide shows, isn’t it time you begin to stimulate and captivate your audiences with commanding PowerPoint presentations? Just be B-O-L-D.
If you want to learn more about creating outstanding Presentation slides download my 4 free videos, “10 Critical Strategies to Make Your Presentation Slides More Memorable.”
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