There are two facts about presentations: firstly, they are a part of college life that can be difficult to avoid and secondly the whole process can be nerve-wracking. For many of us, speaking in public is the stuff of nightmares and it can also be a bit of a struggle to put together the visual part of the presentation. But presentations do help develop your oral and visual communication skills, which are seen by employers as very important "soft skills", so presentations are not going anywhere!
Many presentations are done using Microsoft PowerPoint. PowerPoint is part of the Microsoft Office suite of office software and is an app that lets you create and display slides to support a presentation. Other platforms are available but PowerPoint is the most popular. It's been suggested that PowerPoint is installed on over one billion computers and 30 million new PowerPoint presentations are created each day. You probably have seen your teachers use it and you might be expected to use PowerPoint if you have to make a presentation.
You can break up a presentation into three parts:
- The Presentation itself
Treat the presentation like an assignment. You need to do some or all of the following:
- Come up with an idea
- Organise your time
- Take notes
- Organise your material
Look at the Assignment Planning section of this website. The same advice stands for your presentation.
Instead of typing your material into a blank document, you'll be creating a presentation using PowerPoint or some other presentation software. You start with some blank slides, but don't be intimated; it's easier than it looks. There are design templates that you can use to make your slides more... well, presentable.
One of the menu headings in PowerPoint is "Design". Click on that to see a number of templates for your slides
Also under the Design menu is "Design Ideas, which will give you some ideas for the layout of your slides. You might be a graphic design wizard and don't need these ideas, but if you need some assistance, press the button!
Some Dos and Don'ts
- Don't use a small font size - 24pt minimum. If PowerPoint makes the font size smaller than 24pt, then you have too much written on your slide
- Don't use a fancy, decorative font, stick to something that's easy to read (if you were submitting a typed assignment, you'd use a font that's easy to read, wouldn't you?)
- DON'T USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS - it's harder to read and comes across as SHOUTING
- Don't clutter your slides - don't have too much information on them
- Don't use too many graphs or charts - one chart or graph per slide
- Don't use too many colours
- Don't use many effects, such as sounds or animations - they distract from the content and can be irritating
- Don't use cliched images e.g don't use a light-bulb to illustrate having an idea
- Don't use low-quality (e.g.blurred or pixelated) images
- Don't use bullet points on every slide
- Don't use a blank white background for your sildes - look at the templates that are available.
- Don't put a lot of text on each slide. Your audience might be distracted from what you are saying
- Do use a readable font like Arial, Helvetica or Verdana
- Do use a consistent colour scheme - the same 2-4 colours on each slide
- Do use high contrast colours
- Do think about the 6x6 rule: a maximum of 6 bullet points on a slide and a maximum of 6 words per bullet point
- Do try to use imaginative images (e.g teamwork - don't use an image of business people sitting around a table, what about using bees working in a hive instead?)
- Do change font size, colour and style if you want to emphasise something
- Do think about using the "Design Ideas" option to change the look of your presentation
Good and Bad Slides
The "good" slide has a clean look and not too much text. The "bad" slide hurts the eyes. There's too much text and too many images. Which of these slides would you rather look at?
Like your assignments, your presentations should tell a story and have a beginning, a middle and an end. Introduce what you're going to say, say it and then tell the audience that you have said it. Make sure you structure your presentation like this.
How Many Slides?
How many slides do you need? If you look this up online, you'll get a million different answers. A rule of thumb, used by some, is to have one slide for roughly every minute you speak. If you're speaking for 10 minutes - then 10 slides, if you're speaking for 20 minutes - then 20 slides. Another rule used by some people is the 10-20-30 rule: ten slides for a twenty minute presentation with no font smaller than thirty point. In other words, there is no right answer. Just remember not to put too much information on a slide.
Public speaking is not easy. A lot of people find it difficult, if not terrifying. Fortunately there are steps you can take to make your presentation more successful, You don't even have to imagine that your audience is naked!
The most important thing you can do to help your presentation and make you feel better is organise a "dry run". Get a couple of friends or classmates together, present to them and then get their feedback. Also, ask someone to time your dry run.
A dry run is essential because:
- it will identify problems with your content
- it will identify issues with delivery
- it will identify questions the audience might ask
- it will identify how many slides you actually need
You might need more than one dry run. That's fine. Just make sure that you give yourself time to act on any feedback you're given. Don't do your dry run the same day as your presentation!
Before you speak
Be prepared! Some tips:
- Before the day of the presentation, if you can, then visit the room where you're speaking and try out the technology, so that you're not messing around on the day.
- Do not write out a script. Instead:
- Write out your main argument or conclusion
- Write out your main points as headings or bullet points on cue cards
- Make sure that you know your content (the cue cards above will help)
On the day:
- Arrive in plenty of time
- Check the equipment again
- Have a glass of water at hand
The Presentation Itself
- Act confidently, even if you don't feel it - you should know your content - you're the expert here, so gain confidence from that
- The first slide should introduce you and give the title of the presentation
- Don't apologise for anything
- If a microphone is available, use it
- Make eye contact with audience members
- Try to speak slowly and remember to pause for breath now and again
- Don't speak in a monotone
- Ask for questions at the end
Also, pay attention to Morpheus and the best of luck!
Morpheus image generated at Meme Creator