How to the Avoid the 10 Most Frequent PowerPoint Presentation Mistakes and Pitfalls
While PowerPoint presentations serve as an effective medium to convey the requisite information in a coherent manner, a badly designed presentation can easily lull the target audience to sleep. Unfortunately, most of us fail to avoid some of the common pitfalls while designing a presentation, here is a quick recap of ten frequent pitfalls.
1. Falling into the fallacy of fancy: Usage of fancy fonts is a strict no-no. The audience would always prefer something easily readable. When fancy fonts are used, they distract the audience’s attention. This can be avoided by using standard fonts such as Arial, Helvetica and Times New Roman, which are easily comprehensible.
2. Not embedding fonts: Most presentations are created on personal computers or on Google Docs and finally presented on a different computer. Microsoft PowerPoint doesn’t embed the fonts by default. So, the presentation may end up looking totally different from the original if the font used in the original is not saved in the computer where the presentation is actually being delivered. As a precaution, always stick to standard fonts or use PowerPoint to embed your fonts. There is a helpful tutorial on how to embed your fonts available at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/826832.
3. Inconsistent formatting of text: Lack of consistent formatting across the slides can leave a very poor impression on the audience.
Remember to use:
- Same font and text on all slides
- Large font sizes (34-45 points)
- Limit text to 7 words per line
- Limit text to 6 lines per slide
4. Using a poor or multi-colored background: Using a lot of colors in the background can be very distracting. A poorly chosen background will limit the visibility of the text and make the presentation seem dull and lifeless. Simple things like choosing a light text over a dark background can do wonders in improving the presentation.
5. Less text is more effective: The key objective of any presentation is to simplify the content and make it easily comprehensible to the audience. The purpose of the PowerPoint presentation itself is defeated when the presentation is loaded with text or complicated jargon. Always use the KISS (Keep it short and simple) principle while designing the presentation.
6. Check for grammatical errors: It is very imperative to check the slides for spelling and grammatical errors. These errors are very glaring and disturbing to the audience. Use F7 key to run a spell check on each slide.
7. Misuse of Graphs and Charts: Though graphs and charts are very handy tools to summarize and depict complex information, using complicated graphs or using graphs on every slide can make the presentation monotonous and boring. Always use simple graphs/charts and remember to use them sparingly.
8. Overuse of animation effects: PowerPoint allows you to incorporate a lot of flashy animation effects like text zooming, flashing and fading across the slide. While these effects do impart a magical feel to the presentation, excessive use of animation can shift the attention from the content and the presentation to the fancy effects. Therefore, use animation effects judiciously.
9. Improper usage of media: Media such as images and videos can play a significant role in presentations. Remember to use relevant and high quality images in your presentation. Also, use ‘Package for CD’ option available in PowerPoint to embed the links for videos and sounds properly.
10. Not structuring the presentation: Structuring the presentation in a logical and coherent manner to keep track of the big picture is absolutely essential to design an effective presentation. Many presentations don’t have a logical flow through the slides. This can be avoided by jotting down the central theme of the presentation and key messages of each slide in a notebook prior to designing the presentation.
These common pitfalls, if avoided, can take you a long way in designing a PowerPoint presentation that packs a punch.
Wittten by Rahul Muralidharan for Chillibreeze