There is no dearth of presentation tips on the web. If you follow all of them blindly, you may mess up your presentations rather than making them better. Some of them are outdated too.
These are 7 popular tips for presentation you should NEVER FOLLOW if you want to make winning business presentations.
Tip #1: The 6X6X6 rule
The rule says you should have 6 slides in your presentation, with 6 bullet points per slide and 6 words per bullet. If you follow the rule, you’ll make typical, boring bullet point slides, which your audiences hate. This popular rule and the default bulleted PowerPoint Template have made presentations a nightmare for the audience.
An effective PowerPoint slide should sell your idea. Bullet points definitely have a place in your presentation. They are the best way to present a list. Or if you are using it like WORD to make a document that you will email someone.
But, using them for the entire presentation is a crime.
Tip #2: Stick full page stock photos on every slide
Follow this advice, if your presentation has philosophical orientation, where you need to use a lot of quotes. The high resolution stock photos may set the mood for your audience to contemplate the deeper meaning of life.
But, if you want to make a business presentation, where your information is slightly more complex – this method will bloat your presentation and distract your audience.
We accept the point that stock photos make your slides look ‘beautiful’ and reflect your fine sense of design. But, will they add lot of clarity to your core message? I doubt that. A diagram or chart can support your business concepts much better than a full page stock photo. You can read more about the issues with full page stock photos here.
By the way, will your understanding of financial risk assessment get any better by sticking a full bleed photo of dollar bills in the background?
Tip #3: Slides should not make sense without the explanation by the presenter
The idea behind this tip is quite strong. If your slides are self explanatory, your role as a presenter gets redundant.
A much better way of saying this would be, “Your slides should not make sense before you explain them fully”. This way, you sustain the element of curiosity in your audience, and hold their attention from start to finish.
But, if your slides don’t make sense even after you’ve explained your point – your audience lose track. They keep waiting for you to complete the loop. If you don’t complete the loop and move to the next point, they don’t move with you.
Use custom animation to build your information and maintain audience curiosity. But, ensure that your slides are clearly understandable, after you are through with your explanation.
Let them not be just cryptic clues to your core message.
Tip #4: Use as few PowerPoint slides as possible
We don’t believe in the rule that you should use no more than 10 slides, because your audience loses interest in 20 minutes. In fact, we don’t think you should even bother counting your number of slides. It is a wrong metric to measure. It also leads to slides that look overly crowded and cramped like this…
The number of your slides should be determined by the number of ideas you want to include in your presentation. Use as many points you need, to make your core message clear. and succeed in your objective. Convey one idea per slide.
We’ve seen highly persuasive presentations with more than 100 slides and completely confusing presentations with only 3 slides. So, focus only on message clarity.
Yes. Make sure that your presentations end on time.
Tip #5: Don’t use animations in a formal business presentation
When your bullet points fly in with a screech or a paper clip dances at the corner of your slide, no doubt you will irritate your business audience. But, there is so much more to animations than those fancy elements.
Custom animation, when used correctly can make your message clear and memorable. Good animations can hold your audience’s attention.
The trick to use animation the right way is to imagine you explaining your idea on a flip chart. Visualize the sequence in which you would want to communicate your points. That is the exact sequence you should use in your slides too.
Not using animation is wasting the power of PowerPoint.
Tip #6: You should open your presentation with a bang
You must give a lot of attention to the opening of your presentation. But, don’t lose your audience by focusing too much on the ‘bang’ element of your opening.
We’ve seen presenters start their presentation with a high voltage video and just when the audience expects the rest of the presentation to be as ‘exciting’, they show a 6 X 6 numerical table and go about their business as if the start has nothing to do with the rest of the message.
The same way, some presenters open their presentation with a hilarious joke and frown through the rest of the presentation.
Don’t see the opening of your presentation in isolation. Don’t be pressurized to entertain your crowd as soon the curtains go up. Instead, use the opening of your presentation to establish your credibility and connect with your audience. Orient your audience to your message.
Remember- your opening sets the expectation for your audience. Don’t use a ‘bang’ opening, if you can’t sustain the excitement.
Tip #7: Send your presentation in advance, so participants can be prepared
If you want to send your presentation in advance, do so by all means. But, please don’t stand there and present the same slides again ‘for the benefit of those who haven’t had the time to go through the slides’. That insults the people who have taken the time to go through your slides.
Give a one minute summary of your key points and get right to the action.
Another pertinent point: If you must send your presentation in advance, why not send it as a document, which is much easier to follow than a PowerPoint?
Our view is – you should try to avoid sending your presentation to your audience, if you want your message to get the kind of clarity, which only you can provide.
So, take the general advice on Presentation tips with a pinch of salt. Let your common sense be your guiding factor on what to take and what to leave.