Five Steps to Deliver More Effective PowerPoint Presentations

It is estimated that there are millions of PowerPoint presentations delivered in offices around the world each day. Sadly, few of these are effective. Most fail to achieve what the presenter wanted when he or she stood up to start talking. Often the mistakes were made well before the presenter displayed their first slide and started talking. The steps below will help you deliver more effective presentations and avoid the most common mistakes most presenters make.

Understand what you are trying to achieve

The first step to developing and delivering more effective PowerPoint presentations is to understand exactly what you are trying to achieve with your presentation. There may be several stakeholders you have to satisfy with your presentation ranging from your boss, yourself, and your client. Each stakeholder will expect something specific to be achieved by you delivering a presentation. You need to identify the expectations and understand how ( or if) you can meet them. If you can’t achieve it in a single presentation tell your stakeholders. When you can clearly answer the question “what do I want the audience to think or do at the end of the presentation?” you have an understanding of what you are trying to achieve with the presentation.

Identify the main points and the theme of the presentation

Once you understand what you are trying to achieve you can start to think about the theme and key points you will cover in the presentation. It is critical that you have a central theme that you can tie all the points you cover too. This step provides a level of consistency and reinforcement for your audience. It allows your audience to better understand the message you are sharing because everything they hear or see on the screen ties back to a single message – constantly reinforcing what you want them to understand!

Write your speech – then prepare your PowerPoint slides

A common temptation when asked to deliver a presentation is to launch PowerPoint and start putting words and pictures onto PowerPoint slides, treating PowerPoint as a speech writing tool. The result is your supporting visual aids become the focus of the presentation. PowerPoint is a visual aid, it’s there to support the message you are trying to drive home to your audience. To prevent your slides from containing your entire speech and dominating your presentation you must determine how you will structure the message, what you want to say, and the information you need to cover to achieve the aim of the presentation. Only when you have done that should start creating your slides.

The most effective way of do this is to leave the computer switched off and return to the primitive method of Pen and paper. You can scribble, cross out, or move things around until you are happy. Only when you are happy should you open PowerPoint and start preparing slides to display on screen.

Get honest feedback on your presentation

It is natural, as we develop a presentation we get too close to it. We understand what we are trying to communicate to our audience. The best speakers and presenters know they need to test their material before delivering it to its intended audience. Find a colleague you can trust to give you honest feedback and get their opinion on your presentation. A separate pair of eyes and ears will find things and have new ideas. You will benefit from their ideas as you deliver a more effective presentation that achieves its intended purpose. Ensure you ask them for feedback on how effectively your presentation is achieving the purpose you identified in step 1.

Develop your delivery skills and gesture

Developing your delivery skills, such as your gesturing, your vocal impact, and your use of the speaking area will greatly add to your ability to impact audiences when you deliver a presentation. This is not a simple quick fix though. Your Delivery skills will only improve with continued focus and practise. Find a trusted colleague, one who is considered a good presenter, or a qualified presentation skills coach to help you by providing expert feedback on how to improve your delivery skills. Get them to give you feedback over several presentations and apply the advice they give you each time. It will take several presentations, but in a relatively short period you will experience a significant improvement in your delivery skills – making you look and feel more confident when you deliver your presentations!

Following the five steps listed you will become more effective delivering PowerPoint presentations. They will help you stand out in a world where there are millions of presentations that are poor, you will stand out as someone who can stand up and confidently deliver effective PowerPoint presentations at work!