How To - Great PowerPoint
Cooley on green screen
Shots of people in a conference room nodding off, flipping me off, etc.
You probably know me from CNET videos, but when I'm not doing one of these, I'm likely on the road doing one of these:
Over the years, I've seen my share of people nod off during a presentation; I've even been that person. There is nothing worse than bad PowerPoint.
So, I'm going to share 7 tips that will almost guarantee you never see anyone in your audience drop their chin to their chest (unless they just died of a massive coronary, which isn't your fault.)
Clean and simple. No slide should ever look like a junk shop. Do that, and you're telling the room "I don't know what matters." You can have a lot to say, but don't ram it all into one slide. Keep each slide clear, around one thought. This is the single most important tip.
Don't barf. When even a simple slide comes up, it shouldn't just splat everything in one big mess. Then you've lost your audience as they read ahead and digest the slide in a few seconds, but you're going to spend minutes going over what they just read. Death.
Instead, roll each element in via simple animations--I usually use fade (not dissolve). It keeps the audience right with me, and builds a little anticipation. Also, use a simple fade transition from slide to slide as well. If your thoughts flow smoothly, your slides should reflect that.
Don't read. This is closely related to the don't barf thing. Don't just roll out a slide and read it to your audience. You may as well just e-mail 'em the presentation and stay home. If you keep the presentation spare and punchy, you'll have plenty of important stuff to add off the cuff, leaving just the main bullets to hang up there as reinforcement.
Learn to drive. At the VERY least, learn about F5 and Shift-F5. F5 puts you in full-screen presentation mode, the way PPT is meant to be used. And Shift-F5 does the same thing from whatever slide you are on. Also, discover Presenter Mode, which puts the full screen in front of your audience, but a custom notes and navigation view on your screen only. Tasty.
Get a remote. Sitting there tethered to your keyboard -- or worse, having someone else run your presentation -- is heinous. Get a wireless remote so you can work the room a little, stand, and look where you want. Also, the remote can be used almost invisibly, so slides and transitions fly in on cue as if by magic rather than being telegraphed by you reaching for the keyboard.
Get embedded. Learn to embed video inside PPT, rather than clunkily dropping out to a separate player. Yes, PPT only accepts a limited number of file types for embedding, but it's worth converting to one of them. And format the video to go full screen automatically when it plays. That makes it showtime.
Type matters. Stick with one or two typefaces, and use attributes things like Bold and Italic consistently and sparingly. Also, make sure repeating elements repeat in the same place. And of course spelling and grammar matter. I don't have to tell you that, do I?
Now go present a tight PowerPoint, keep it moving, and don't suck.