Dear Miss Techie,
I need to do a slideshow presentation to a client that looks professional. Do you have any tips?
All Slideshow’d Out
Giving presentations can be a daunting task. Especially when you want to make a good impression and not bore your audience to death. Although there is nothing that beats preparation, practice and more practice, here are a few tips that will help make your presentation more engaging and look professional.
- The fewer words you have, the better
- There is no hard and fast rule, but try to have no more than 10 words on each slide
- If you’re feeling adventurous, limit yourself to maximum 3 world per slide
- Large font is good – people at the back of the room should be able to read it
- If you can’t fit your words in, chances are you have too many words
- DO NOT READ FROM YOUR SLIDES
- Your audience can read – prepare a separate document and provide it as a handout if you have a lot of text/information
- You should be delivering the content, not your slides. In fact, your slide should almost be meaningless without you
- You should only have a few words there anyway (see first point)
- Limit the number of fonts used (1 is a good number, 2-3 if you really need to)
- Choose fonts to suit the presentation (comic sans is usually a bad choice)
- Note: If you’re going to be presenting on a different machine, always have the font files ready to install on the presentation machine
- Beautiful Web Type pairs various fonts that are freely available from Google Fonts
- wordmark.it is a great tool that lets you easily view all fonts that you already have on your system
- Using large, good quality images can make a huge difference to your presentation
- Make your images the primary focus of your slides
- Finding the right image to portray the idea you want to express is not an easy task, but it’s worth it!
- Tip: For your summary slide, use the same images that were used to convey the main points earlier in your talk (eg. if you had 4 ideas, place an image in each quadrant). It’s a nice way to tie everything back together
Where to find images?
- Take your own photos :)
- Compfight lets you easily search flickr photos. It even gives you the option to filter by Creative Commons only
- Place important content on the top half of the slides – that way they’ll be visible from the back of the room
- Unless it’s really really effective, leave out the effects/animations – they generally just distract the audience
- Don’t stand behind a lectern/laptop – you are talking to the audience, not to the laptop
- Try to ask for (or invest in) a presentation clicker (bluetooth mouse, though bulky will do the job!) so you can move around
- Standing out in the open may be scary, but it will let you make more eye contact and help engage with the audience
- Practice, practice, practice – you shouldn’t need to use notes. The images on the slides should be enough to remind you want you need to say
- Remember that lighting might not be the best, so pick colours that have good contrast and are easy to read
- Don’t use too many colours, three main colours is a good number to stick with
- If you’re not restricted to company colours, have a look at Kuler. It is a great treasure trove of nice harmonious colours.
I will guarantee you that doing a presentation where there are close to no words and only images on slides is nerve racking. However, it will definitely change the way you prepare your presentations :)
If you are looking for more tips, here are a couple of great places to look at:
- Top Ten Slide Tips – by Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen
- TED – a collection of amazing and inspiring talks
- Attend an Ignite or PechaKucha event (or better yet, present at one!).
Good luck with it, and have fun!
Miss Techie, aka Peggy Kuo, is a programmer who is currently developing a mobile game. She’s also presented at Ignite Sydney. You can see what she’s up to at her website.