1.) Give a 💩.
When you don’t care about your presentation, it shows. It’s in your lazily-designed slides, your monotonous voice, and your copy-paste style text. Why should your audience care when you don’t?
The first step to creating excellent presentations is to want to make them excellent. If you’re allowed to choose your topic, pick something you’re passionate about. If it’s an assigned topic, find something interesting about it.
Beyond wanting good grades, try because it’s an opportunity to learn about something. The classroom is the one place in the world you’re always allowed to be curious. In school, you’re free to explore ideas and concepts on a vast array of topics — when else will you be able to learn about Aristotle or world history? After you graduate, you’ll only be learning about things related to your job. Take advantage of this opportunity and try. Everything else will follow.
2.) Really think about the tone of your presentation.
Is it serious? Playful? Emotional? Funny? Understanding your presentation’s tone is a combination of both knowing your topic and knowing your audience.
Start with reading up on your topic like it’s your favourite thing in the world. Understand its ins and outs, its whys and wherefores, its nuts and bolts. Know your topic more than you know your best friends. The more information you gather, the more material you can play around with later.
Afterwards, try to know more about your audience. What kind of stories stick with them? Do they like puns? How much do they already know or care about your topic? Go beyond demographic information and really understand the habits and interests of the people you’re presenting to. It helps to utilize this knowledge to then adjust illustrations, examples, and language to become more relatable to them.
Bonus tip: If you’re still unsure of your presentation’s tone, try drafting a script first and reading it out loud. Use different voices and emotions, and see what fits best.
3.) Match color scheme to your message.
In the same way you wouldn’t wear bright pink to a funeral or sequins to the office, you have to dress your slides appropriately.
In this article, we wrote that each color carries its own emotional and psychological associations. Some feel bright and youthful, while some feel somber and heavy. Using the most appropriate palette helps to maintain the mood of the presentation, which contributes to the power of your overall message.
For example, in this presentation about smoking, the creator made use of a dark, monochromatic color palette to emphasize the seriousness of the topic. You can find color inspirations here.
In this example, the creator used a bold, colorful palette to complement the fun, exciting tone of the presentation.
4.) Match fonts, too!
Fonts, similar to colors, evoke different feelings and emotions. They drastically affect the way your audience reads your text. Using them properly maximizes their effect on the audience.
When choosing the right font, think about typeface, size, effect, and color. In the example below, the creator used a different typeface in the color red to emphasize certain keywords. Doing so breaks the monotony of the sentence. You can match and pair fonts here.
5.) Think of it like a story.
Not all aspects of your presentation will be important. It’s important to identify which parts require emphasis and repetition and which parts you can just breeze through.
A good tip is to think of your presentation like a story. Before your audience can tear up at the pinnacle death scene or cheer as the protagonists finally meet again, you have to build a cohesive, understandable plot.
A traditional story has 5 stages: the exposition, the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the conclusion. Try dividing your slides according to their purpose in your presentation:
- Exposition: Introduces your topic and provides background information. General information necessary to contextual understanding are present here such as important keywords, people, structures, etc.
- Rising Action: Builds up the tension in your presentation. These slides contain more specific information about your topic like motives and process.
- Climax: This is the most exciting part of your presentation. This part should contain your primary message. Take pauses, emphasize, and create eye-catching slides.
- Falling Action: Begins the ‘clean up’. You may include your call to action and further explanations of your primary message.
- Conclusion: The end of your presentation. This may include your final key takeaways and a summary of your presentation.
6.) Simplify it.
Human beings are terrible at multitasking. Just look back at all the times you ever attempted to listen to your teacher and read the blocks of text on their slides, and you’ll agree. When you clutter up your slides with words and pictures and animations and bright colors all at once, it’s difficult for your audience to focus their attention on you.
Ditch the long-winded paragraphs and cluttered images, and try spreading your content across different slides. As much as possible, keep it to one main idea per slide. This way, each main point can be better emphasized, and you’re more able to get your message across. You can also simplify presentations using graphics or infographics, which you can check out here.
7.) Try the 7×7 rule.
If you’re unsure how many words to put on one slide, a handry rule-of-thumb is the 7×7 rule. This means that per slide, you should only have 7 lines of text and 7 words per line. This helps to make sure that you don’t end up over-explaining on your slides.
Remember that slides are only one part of your entire presentation, and they shouldn’t present a script of everything you want to get across. Your slides are meant to complement you as you present your message. Don’t make the mistake of letting your slides do all the talking.
8.) Consider not using text at all!
Here’s a crazy-not-so-crazy idea — what if you removed your text altogether? Research has proven that humans are primarily visual creatures. At least 65% of the entire human population are ‘visual learners’, and, people, in general, are much more able to remember images than text.
Rather than crowding your slides with bullet points, try different visuals — images, videos, graphics. When there are no words on the slides, the crowd is forced to listen to you. You become the star of your presentation.
Aside from that, it will also definitely leave a strong impression on your audience as it reflects skill and preparedness. Checkout this useful tool here!
9.) Use images.
Relevant images allow your audience to connect better with your content. For example, if you’re discussing a serious topic like the disastrous effects of climate change, it’s much easier for people to feel a sense of urgency when they can put a face to your words. Or if you’re trying to teach first aid to an audience, people will be able to follow much better with photos of necessary tools, proper wound care, and hand positions.
This presentation called the A-Z Culture Glossary 2017 by Sparks & Honey makes use of high-quality images to help explain each word’s definition. Check out this library of images/graphics!
10.) Use videos.
Why settle for static images when we have the option to use videos? Most marketers today deem video to be the superior content medium — and for good reason. No other format has been able to generate as many clicks, engagements, and conversions.
Video combines the authenticity and eye-catching quality of image, the efficiency of audio, and the clarity of text. It also allows you to present things simultaneously. For example, you could display a graph or chart on the screen, and, at the same time, have someone verbally explain while pointing to it.
Videos have also been proven to imprint on memories much more easily. This is because videos are the best approximation of how human beings normally experience life — multi-sensory. With videos, your audience is sure to remember your message much better. Here’s a faster and more professional way to make videos.
11.) Use quotes.
How many times have you walked out of a theater repeating a powerful line by one of the characters? Quotes have a strong power to stay in our memory long after we’ve heard or read about them.
Use catchy mnemonics to help your audience remember a complex subject or a quote from a famous person to support your argument. Whatever the purpose, it will surely leave a lasting effect on your audience.
12.) Use stats.
Conviction and fancy words aren’t enough to win over an entire audience. For them to trust you, they need to believe you.
Using facts in your presentation gives you a strong starting point with your audience. You easily position yourself as a person of authority on the subject — and it looks especially impressive if you’re reciting facts from memory.
When presenting facts, however, don’t forget to display them in an understandable way. Don’t bombard your screen with unorganized figures. Fashion your numbers into a graph, chart, or table. You could also opt to just flash the important numbers you want your audience to remember.
13.) Use stories.
People remember content they relate to, which is why it’s important to make your presentation as relatable as possible. Using stories with real people allows your audience to connect more with your message.
If you’re presenting a product, you can gather testimonials from past or current users. If you’re presenting about an issue, gather interviews you can present to your audience. You can even use hypothetical examples to better explain a concept if you have no real life situation to cite.
14.) Proofread. Proofread. Proofread.
Something as small as a typo or a missed punctuation mark can steal your entire audience’s attention away from you. Make sure you read through your presentation once you’re done, and, after proofreading, read through it again. You can even ask a friend to look through your slides with a fresh pair of eyes.
Don’t let one small mistake destroy the hours of hard work you poured into your presentation. You owe it to yourself to do great.
15.) There’s no shame in using templates.
Let’s be honest, making professional-looking presentation slides difficult. Not all of us are gifted with an eye for design, and, even when we are, sometimes, we just don’t have the time to make them.
Thankfully, the internet is full of many available resources you can utilize to create a beautiful, eye-catching presentation. Professional designers carefully choose font combination, color palette, layout in their creations. They also keep up with the latest trends and design principles in order to give you the tools to deliver the best presentation.