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Creating an Effective PowerPoint Presentation

Whether it be in a high school classroom, college lecture hall, conference room, or large presentation, at some point in our lives we have all been subject to a brutally boring, painful-to-watch lecture accompanied by an awful PowerPoint. While public speaking and presentation design may not be everyone’s forte, we’re here to give a few helpful tips to help make your presentation a success. If the presenter is the driver of a presentation, the accompanying visual aids are almost certainly the vehicle. The presenter and the aids must compliment each other in order to ensure an effective presentation. The Presenter Unfortunately, the text-filled slide approach is the most common PowerPoint method. As anyone who has sat through one of these presentations would know, they are far from effective. An effective presentation contains content that is arranged in the most efficient manner without superfluous decoration. Essentially, presentations should be simple, balanced, and appealing to the eye.  Most importantly, presentations and their corresponding visual aids should focus on a “whole-brained” approach. Good presenters will make a conscious effort to focus on the audience’s left-brain and right-brain sensibilities. Effective presentations and slides should have the following qualities: Simplicity – Reduce ideas to their essential meaning. You want to answer, “What is the key point?” and “Why does it matter?” as concisely as possible. Remember, if everything is important, then nothing is important. Unexpectedness – Take people by surprise. A person’s curiosity can be a powerful tool when giving a presentation. Make your audience aware that there is a gap in their knowledge and spend your presentation taking them on an excursion to fill in those gaps. Concreteness – Being vague and ambiguous are not in the presenter’s best interests here. Use simple language that your audience will be able to comprehend. In the case of presenting, it is better to be clear and simple than to be abstract and profound. Credibility – This should be self-explanatory. Most of us will not be a renowned leader in our field so we have to use other things to establish our credibility. Use numbers, data, and statements from leaders to establish your own credibility. You want to come across as an expert on your topic. Emotion – Build an emotional connection with your audience. You need them to “feel” your topic. Use pictures to build a more emotional connection to the idea. Sure, you could spend lots of time discussing statistics and the effects of smoking on a human’s lungs, but truer connection can be easily established by showing your audience what you are speaking of. Stories – Tell stories. Plain and simple. It is human nature. It establishes a relationship with your audience as well as a since of credibility. Stories are entertaining and engaging. We teach and we learn more effectively through the stories that we share. Finally, stay away from the dreaded “deck of slides” approach. Don’t be afraid to deviate. Create an effective handout that has all of your important points on it. This allows you the flexibility to go with the flow of your presentation and not be constrained by the need to go over every bit of information that you have recorded. Remember, your presentation should be supplemental, not the main attraction. The Presented As I mentioned previously, if the presenter is the driver of a presentation, then the vehicle s the presentation itself. Using these tips, you will almost certainly transform that old, beat-up Datsun of a presentation into the Mercedes it deserves to be. 1. Be cognizant of your signal-to-noise ratio. Signal-to-noise refers to the ratio of...

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