Executive Speaking Weblog

Communication – the future of business

Perfect PowerPoint

Posted by Presentation Skills on March 26, 2008

PowerPoint has become the modern tool of today’s corporate trainer. PowerPoint can be a great tool when used properly and the following tips will help you with it!

  1. Before you start presenting, ask if you really need PowerPoint. Did you know that before PowerPoint (and Freelance etc) came along, trainers and speakers spoke without it! If they needed a visual aid they used Over-head projectors or white boards. Sometimes they used nothing. There is no rule saying that you have to use PowerPoint! At your next conference, shock you audience by speaking without PowerPoint! That will certainly get their attention.
  2. What are you putting on your slides? PowerPoint works best with pictures, diagrams and data intensive information that cannot be easily explained with words alone. By keeping the text to a minimum you will be able to keep the focus on you and your message.
  3. Follow the 10/20/30 rule. No more than 10 slides for a 20 minute presentation (that’s 2 minutes per slide) and no smaller than 30 font for the text. Yes, that is big text! This forces you to simplify your slides!
  4. Handouts – Ideally your handouts SHOULD NOT BE your presentation slides. Consider having three sets of notes/slides:
    1. Audience slides – these are the slides that the audience sees. Keep them simple and relevant. Also avoid over doing the text. 
    2. Your notes – these are the notes that you have to look at. They should have enough detail for you to remember what to say.
    3. Audience handouts – If you choose to have audience handouts, there is nothing to say that they have to look like the slides on the screen. In fact, there is a great argument that says that your notes should be much more detailed than the notes on the screen. After all, the notes are to re-enforce and also EXPAND on what you spoke about.
  5. Another way to interact with your audience is to give them electronic notes. Send them a link to your website/database/data warehouse where they can get notes. This will save a heap of printing, time wasting and save your notes going into the bin by those that only took the notes because they were there. If you are an external speaker/trainer, you can direct people to your website or blog to show your other products/services!
  6. Remember that your goal as a speaker at a conference or a training session or a team meeting is to engage and connect with your audience. If you can achieve this without PowerPoint then FANTASTIC!

Til next time


Darren Fleming

Australia’s Public Speaking Coach



4 Responses to “Perfect PowerPoint”

  1. James said

    Darren, these are some good points but the best one is #1: do you really need Powerpoint? I’ve sat through so many presentations where people used powerpoint but didn’t need them. Many people use it so they don’t have to remember their presentation while others use it because they think it’s flashy. Good info.


  2. Frances Passingham said

    Darren I think you have raised some good points here. Powerpoint has its uses but there are times when it is a hindrance. I appreciate your comments about the notes. University lecturers tend to hand out the Powerpoint as notes and it really is not a lot of use.

  3. Darren,

    I appreciate your comments on the use of all audio visuals. Too many of today’s presentations are overloaded, and they are overloaded because the speaker uses the audio visuals as their notes (a crux for them).

    I wrote an article titled, “Sender, Audience, Message: What is Your Presentation Style?” in which I talk about presentations that are too Sender-focused, too Audience focused (many fewer!), too Message or content-focused. Any readers interested can email me at joan@totalcommunicationscoach.com and I’ll send the link.

  4. stronghold said

    Great tips, i found all information i was looking for, i will use some of them.

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