It’s happened to all of us. We’re herded into a room with our colleagues to review a presentation on some large unwieldy topic that guarantees you’ll need to awkwardly slide past your neighbor and refill your coffee at least twice. You’re seated in a circular fashion, making discrete rounds of Candy Crush impossible. You hope that the presenter(s) will opt for a live remake of Hamilton but alas, no such luck; you're getting a Power Point. You don’t deserve this and your colleagues don’t either.
So how do we make Power Points and thus the entire world a better place? When it’s your turn to develop the slides, keep these five best practices top of mind. I can’t promise that people will pay attention; but I can promise that somewhere, a tiny rose will grow from concrete. (Maybe not that either.)
1. Always use at least size 18 point font. Chances are, everyone’s not within a few feet of the screen and anything less than 18 point font is lost to the room. Once people can’t read it, they are no longer paying attention. If there is still significant white space after you’ve entered text, increase the font to make good use of that space.
2. Use graphs, charts and infographics where possible to share information instead of text. It is typically more important for your audience to get the general theme of your post, versus focusing on the particular data points. A chart can show a growth in sales with a few key points pulled out; save the nitty gritty details for the appendix. If you’re a real pro, you should be able to speak to the data versus relying on the slide to provide all the information.
3. Provide a progress bar directly on the presentation, so that audiences have a general idea of what to expect. When you’re waiting for your train or your flight, the wait seems much more manageable when you know exactly when the train will arrive. This applies in the office as well. Plus, a progress bar tends to induce a collective sense of accomplishment as you complete each section.
4. In that same vein, do a gut check with your audience every 7-10 minutes. You may not have time for Q&A every 10 minutes, but a quick “Are you all with me? Does this make sense?”, especially when toiling through dry material can go a long way in keeping folks focused.
5. Stand when you present, and where possible, stand close to the screen to create a singular focal point. No one enjoys pinging back and forth between respectfully looking at you in the back of the room while you’re speaking and swiveling their chair back to the screen at the front of the room. Plus, standing helps you to project your voice more and gives your words more authority.
Go forth and present! You got this!