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Ask Miss Techie: Slideshow presentation tips

by Guest on November 20, 2013
Tech

Dear Miss Techie,
I need to do a slideshow presentation to a client that looks professional. Do you have any tips?
Thanks,
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.

Text

  • 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

Resources

Images

  • 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?

Positioning/Animations

  • 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

Colour/Contrast

  • 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:

Good luck with it, and have fun!

Miss Techie

Featured image credit

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.

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