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Top Mistakes made when Presenting with PowerPoint

May 2, 2008

I have been doing a lot of good ole’ PPT over the last few weeks and thought I would share some Insight..

1 Making the image on the screen your security blanket

Solution: Turn your computer so you can check its mini-image of the slide as you face and address your appreciative audience. Maintain eye contact! The last thing they want to see is the back of your head as you turn and stare at the big screen.

2 Leaving a slide on the screen

Solution: A slide should only be on the screen as long as you are talking about related material, somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes. (Tip: To blank out a screen, just press the “B” key to turn the screen black, or “W” to turn the screen white. Press again to re-illuminate the screen.

3 Talking too soon

Solution: Research indicates audiences will remember your presentation best if they are allowed an opportunity to digest a new slide for a few seconds before you start speaking, especially if the visuals are complex.

4 Never varying the order of the slides

Solution: Of course, you’ve set your slides up to present in a logical order, but what happens if a question comes up and you want to jump back or ahead? If you want to show slide #23 immediately after slide #1, go to the View Show mode and press 2 and 3 on the numeric key pad followed by “enter” and PowerPoint® will automatically go to slide #23 in your presentation. (This is another good reason to print your slides as Handouts as a handy reference, because the printout will show the number of each image. I usually print my slides 6 to a page.)

5 Overlooking the pen function

Solution: John Madden was a famous TV football announcer, noted for using a pen on the screen to show how a football play occurred. You can do the same. Press Ctrl “P” while presenting and a pen will come on the screen. Hold the left mouse key down while moving your pen around the screen, and you too can analyze your “play.” To make this work, go to the Tools pull down menu and go to Slide Show and choose your pen color (make sure it contrasts and compliments the background color of your slide).

6 Overusing animations and transitions

Solution: Less is more. If the audience has a copy of your presentation that they can look at while you are presenting, show the material on a slide without any animations. The audience already knows what’s coming. But if the audience will not receive a copy of your presentation as a handout, you should use some animation, still remembering that less is more.

7 Not checking or adjusting slides for the room lighting

Solution: Do not subject your audience to a presentation in a completely dark room. They’ll go to sleep, probably not your objective. Have the most light possible without diluting the impact of your slides. First, try to make sure that all lights that directly hit the projected screen are turned off. (You may even need to climb on a ladder and unscrew some bulbs.) Light text on a dark background looks best in a darker room, but, in a brightly lighted room, the same dark background may fade and make the light text invisible. If you know you will be presenting in a brightly lit room, use dark text on a lighter background.

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