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Monday, March 10, 2008

Presentation Tips

Recently a few people have asked me about the best way to create a presentation. It seems that they are stuck or have colleagues stuck in the "dump as much as you can on the slide" development technique.

I even received an email the other day from someone who had read Edward Tufte's PowerPoint Essay and who wanted to know if ANYTHING good could come from PowerPoint....

The answer is yes.

But you need to be careful. So first I offer my version of Avoiding Death by PowerPoint which provides some techniques for taking boring bullets and adding a little excitement.

Next here are some tips from the "Presentation" portion of my book Winning E-Learning Proposals.

  • Be careful with your background and text. Too many times the creator of the slides develops a multicolored background with multicolored words and expects the viewer in the back of the room to read the dark text on the dark background. It doesn't work.

  • Use 24-point font or larger. Remember that when you are creating the presentation, you are right there and can see it up close. In a conference room or other presentation area the viewers are further away from the screen and they don't all have 20/20 vision (especially if they are over 40 like me.) The guideline of 24-Point font usually accommodates most people and most rooms.

  • Follow the 6x6 rule. This means a slide should have no more than 6 lines of text and no more than 6 words per line. The slide should NOT be your notes. It should contain key words that prompt you to recall the information you are presenting and leave the audience wondering what you are going to say about bullet three.

  • The graphic images you put on your slides should have a direct link to the information on the slide. "I put this picture here because I like it" is not a good reason to add a visual. Visuals need to add meaning.

    Don't talk directly to the slides...turn around and face the audience.

Here is another link to the topic of Avoiding Death by PowerPoint from ZD Net.

Also check out Think OutSide the Slide. Contains good example in the opening page of transforming slides into meaningful visuals.

Also check out this book (not directly related to PowerPoint but good stuff...Say It with Charts by Gene Zelazny.)

Finally, if you really want to know about creating effective presentations in general and great presentations with good PowerPoint...go to Presentation Zen. This is Garr Reynold's excellent blog about all-things-presentation and should be a must read for anyone creating a presentation.

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Jane Bozarth said...

Oh, the topic most dear to my heart!

Also google Seth Goding for both a great blog post on and nice free downloadable booklet on "really bad powerpoint and how to avoid it"

Jane Bozarth said...

Oops-- I meant Seth GODIN, not Goding. jb