Powerpoint Guideliness

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Powerpoint is a great tool for communicating, if you use it right.  Most people don’t do it right.

Here are a few (but not all) guidelines:

  1. Do not make people READ.  It is very hard to read and listen at the same time.  Do this excercise:  Read and article from a magazine about a subject, like politics for example.  At the same time, have a friend tell you about their opinion about the same subject.  You will find that you can not do both at the same time.  You can either listen or you can read.  Do not make your audience read while you talk.
  2. Give people something to look at.  Do another excercise:  Go to a museum and stand in front of a painting or sculpture with a friend.  Then talk about the artwork.  Then go into another room and try and talk about the same artwork.  You will find it is easier to do with the artwork right in front of you.  Give your audience artwork that is interesting/fun/illustrative to look at.  Use clipart!  Use Google Images.  Use SmartArt.  Just don’t put text-only! (See #1)
  3. Make each slide serve a single purpose.  A slide is like a report in a business application.  Each report should answer a specific question.  Each slide should have a specific point it is addressing.  Don’t boil the ocean with one slide.
  4. Use animations. It is actually hard to “overdo” this.  Use animations liberally.  They make the content more enjoyable.  Even for boring content, animation often makes them more understandable.  The proof is in the pudding; use some animations and see what happens.  PowerPoint makes this simple so there is no reason to avoid it.  Use transitions between slides too.
  5. If you HAVE to have text, then make sure the font is gigantic and easy to read.  The only way to get someone to read text on a slide is to make it enormous.  (See #1)
I am sure that there are many more good ideas about presentations, but these are a few to help you out.  Pass it on!
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