Tuesday Tip: three PowerPoint techniques that everyone should use; but few do

Every Tuesday, sales expert Andy Bounds shares his top tips to improve your sales and communications (you can get more of his advice at www.andyboundsonline.com). This week’s is…

‘Death by PowerPoint’

We’ve all sat in an audience, and been on the receiving end of it…

…which means many of us have been presenters guilty of causing it.

Here are three simple techniques to transform your presentations instantly:

#1 To get people talking, blank the screen

The best way to stop people focusing on your slides, instead of focusing on you?

Hide the slides.

Simply press the ‘B’ button to blank the screen (or ‘W’ to white it).  Then ask them a question, and you’ve turned your one-way presentation into a two-way discussion.

Very simple; very effective.

#2 Jump to the right slide

When presenting, you sometimes want to jump forwards to a later slide or backwards to an earlier one.

But PowerPoint won’t let you. So you have to press the ‘up/down’ cursors loads of times, yes?

Well, no.

PowerPoint has a useful function that helps you jump about.

For example, if you’re on slide 3 and want to jump to slide 9, simply press ‘9’ and ‘return’ on the keyboard and it goes straight there.

Your audience doesn’t know you’ve jumped.  To them, it looked like you went to the next slide.

Again, very simple; very effective.

#3 View your presentation through your audience’s eyes

When preparing, put all your slides on your computer screen at once – either by clicking the icon with four little squares on it, or going to ‘view/slide sorter’.  Then look at them all, and do the following:

  • Remove as many slides as possible.  Do this by reviewing each one and thinking ‘keep, bin, appendix’. In other words, which are so critical that you must keep them; which can go in the bin; and which are background detail that can be transferred to an appendix? This is very quick. And can significantly reduce how much you were going to say
  • Remove as many words as possible.  Remember, your slides are supposed to be audience aids, not speaker prompts.  So remove as many words from them as possible, so your audience doesn’t have to watch you read them out loud (trust me: everyone hates watching presenters read)
  • Break boring patterns.  If you see, say, five consecutive slides that look the same, change the look of the middle one – swap bullet points for a flowchart etc. This breaks it up for the audience, stopping their brains thinking ‘here we go again’
  • Ensure the presentation flows well and tells a story.  A good test: if you read the titles one after another, they should form a logical, interesting narrative on their own.  However, if your slides are called ‘contents’, ‘background’, ‘approach’… well, that isn’t logical or interesting
  • Look at your first and last slides again.  The first should engage; and the last should contain a Call To Action.  So far, so obvious.  But most people’s title slides just describe what they’re going to talk about.  And most people’s last slides simply say ‘thank you’… to which the audience tends to reply ‘You’re welcome.  Now get out’.

Action point

Next time you’re using PowerPoint, print off this Tip, and use it to help review your slides.  You’ll be pleased you did.  And your audience will be delighted.

And if you want more tips on how to create great visuals, have a look at this video I recorded. It’s one from my online video club, describing other simple ways to transform your visuals

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