Top 5 tips to ‘wow’ audiences with your PowerPoint skills

Preparing for an important speech or presentation? Microsoft Office 365’s PowerPoint has become a standard tool to enhance and supplement speeches. In many ways PowerPoint can be likened to a marketing tool – a way to package your ideas to best appeal to your audience. And like the best marketing campaigns, it needs to be to the point, appropriate and clear.

Is it time to dust off your PowerPoint skills and impress your audience? Take your presentation or speech from ‘good’ to ‘wow’ with these 5 tips:

1. Remember the aim of the game

While PowerPoint is a great tool to enhance your presentation, it should never be the star of the show – you should. The goal of PowerPoint is to let your speech and ideas shine.

Only use slides that really contribute to and support your presentation. While preparing your slideshow, constantly ask yourself: “Does this add value to my presentation?” If the answer is “no”, drop the slide. Once your slides are completed, run through the presentation in its entirety to see if everything included is vital. Coco Chanel famously said: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” If all the slides add value, that’s great, if not – less is usually more.

2. Keep it simple

We’ve all heard that short is sweet and simple is better, and this tried-and-tested method holds especially true when it comes to PowerPoint presentations. You want your audience to be engaged, not distracted. Text-heavy slides are overwhelming and will definitely take the attention away from you.

When it comes to using bullet points, follow the 2-4-8 rule – no more than one slide every 2 minutes, no more than 4 bullets per slide, and no more than 8 words per bullet. Again, less is more.

3. Keep it classy

Keeping your presentation ‘classy’ applies to the tone (speaking) and style (slides).

Your tone should be appropriate to the audience: casual, informal, formal, etc. And while humour can keep an audience engaged and add a splash of fun to the proceedings, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Steer clear off jokes that could be perceived as inappropriate, and always read the room – nothing is as awkward as jokes not landing. If the audience is not responding to your jokes, maybe just drop them.

When it comes to your PowerPoint slides, keep it classy by keeping it stylish. Choose a font that is easy to read – avoid curly, overdramatic fonts. Also, don’t use more than two complementary fonts per presentation.

Select images that complement your presentation’s style and content – and definitely veer clear of corny Clip Art images. Only use high-quality images – stretching or using low-resolution images will look very unprofessional and detract from your presentation.

4. Don’t overdo the graphics

Don’t go for all sizzle and no steak. Way back when, spinning, waving, rotating, etc. PowerPoint text effects might have been ‘fresh’, but it’s not anymore. While having text appearing as required or fading out when the focus needs to shift back to what you’re saying can be valuable, few other effects will add to the efficiency of your presentation. In fact, the excessive use of effects will most likely distract your audience and make your presentation appear less professional.

5. Keep it personal

By now, most audiences will be quite familiar with the usual PowerPoint templates. Keep it interesting by designing and using your own templates. You can also use photographs you’ve taken yourself for images.

By tweaking and refreshing your PowerPoint presentation skills, you can impress and engage audiences. Microsoft Office 365 has all the tools you need to keep it professional.

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