A PowerPoint presentation is not about slides with text and pictures. It is a powerful channel of communication through which your ideas might reach the audience. You probably have seen a lot of presentations that were incomprehensible and absolutely boring. Let me guess. Were there tons of information, weak structure and no tailored approach to the audience? Well, these are the common mistakes that might hinder the value of your work. In order to stop wasting your time on useless presentations and start loving PowerPoint, you just need to follow a structured process that consists of 5 simple steps.
1. Define a final result
A good presentation starts in your mind. Most people tend to overlook this step, but it is extremely important to formulate a result that you aim to achieve through the presentation. Ask yourself: “Why do I make this presentation? What problem(s) do I want to solve?”. It is useful to think about the actions that the audience should take after listening or looking at your presentation, e.g. to accept a new strategy, invest in a new IT-solution or even offer you a job position.
The analysis of the audience is critical for building a structure of any presentation. Every audience has its unique internal motivation and the right emphasis will facilitate understanding of your ideas. For instance, if you present a start-up project for investors, it is essential to highlight financial performance. If you need to convey your thoughts to a wider audience, e.g. TED Talk, leveraging your personal stories might be the best option. Try to find answers to the following questions: “What does my audience want to see? What do they like and dislike? What are their interests?”. Moreover, your audience also defines how you will present ideas. For example, a lot of detail in a presentation will distract from the main story during a public speech at a conference, but they will be helpful in a presentation that is sent by email.
2. Write a script
Now, when you understand what your audience is, why and how to present your ideas, it is time to figure out what exactly will be in the presentation. The script is the foundation, it helps to formulate the main ideas that you can tell anyone, even without slides.
First, start with a structure that usually represents a logic of the entire presentation and contains several blocks:
- Introduction: get the audience’s attention and trust, introduce yourself and give a plan and timing.
- Problem: describe the situation, explain the problem, and show why it is worth the audience’s attention.
- Solution: offer your solution to the problem and illustrate arguments to support it.
- Conclusion: summarize your main ideas, suggest a plan of action, and encourage the audience to take the next steps.
In each of these blocks, it is necessary to formulate the main statements, which, basically, will become the titles of the slides. PowerPoint slides will not be helpful on this step, it is better to use paper, stickers, text editors or mind maps to structure your thoughts and check the logic of the story. Further, you need to explain or expand each statement with statistics, facts, and examples. This would be the content of the slides. The current step is based on the pyramid principle created by Barbara Minto. Go and check her book for more details.
3. Create a storyboard
A storyboard is a draft of the future presentation. On this step, you can move your structure to empty slides and finalize the content. It is useful to think about a possible layout of elements on your slides and schematically draw graphs, tables, icons, etc.. Ensure that each slide follows logically from the previous one.
4. Choose a visual style
Having slides with the final text and sketchy visualization, you can start creating a template that will help to present ideas vividly and convincingly. It is also possible to use free templates from such sources as SlideCarnival, Slidesgo, Peetch, Slidesmania, Youexec, Freedesignresources, Canva. Additionally, you need to choose or adapt fonts, colors, styles of graphics, icons or photos. Do not forget to fix the layout of titles and logos. Before the final design, it is recommended to create 4-5 basic slides to try out the chosen style.
5. Finish a presentation in PowerPoint (or any other programs)
The last step is designing the remaining slides from the storyboard. When you finish, it is useful to check the presentation one more time a bit later (after a couple of hours or days) and discuss it with another person to refine the logic and visualization.
Step by step, this structured approach would help you to create a meaningful and cogent presentation. Good luck and stay healthy!