PowerPoint gurus are prone to giving us huge lists of PowerPoint do’s and don’ts. It is impossible to follow all of them in every presentation, but it will certainly help you if you follow the basic best practices.
Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 rule certainly tops our chart of best practices. Translated, it means use a 30 point font (so that even the person in the very last row can read your slides), design a presentation that’s not longer than 20 minutes (so that your audience doesn’t get bored and restless) and has a maximum of 10 slides (too many slides will confuse the audience).
Here’s another easy rule to follow that has nothing to do with technology or software, but has everything to do with you. Speak clearly, make eye contact and don’t rush through your talk. Pause and take the time to let your audience absorb each idea before continuing.
Coming back to your slides, never duplicate what you are saying with what’s on the slide. Repetition of ideas, the same visual and audio information, and stating the obvious – all work really well at boring your audience. So keep information on your slides minimal, limit it to a carefully chosen word or visual, and make sure that your audience listens to you.
Avoid bullet points. Instead use a good mix of test and visuals. That will keep your audience on their toes, and they are sure to remember your presentation better.
Here is a great PowerPoint presentation that Sunni Brown created for Razorfish and AT&T. She was inspired by Steven Johnson’s book, “Where Good Ideas Come From: A Natural History of Innovation.”