Rules to Better Powerpoint Presentations

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  1. Do you know if you are using the template?

    PowerPoint templates are designed to engage your audience visually and save you time. When you start creating a new presentation file, always make sure you use a template.
    not follow SSW brand
    Figure: Bad Example - Not using the corporate template (in this case not SSW)
    SSW PowerPoint Template
    Figure: Good Example - That's a mighty fine looking template you got there

    More Information:

    Figure: Bad Example - No template applied to the file
    Find SSW template from My template
    Figure: Good Example - Find the template when creating a new presentation file
  2. Do you know how to see if your PowerPoint is using the latest template?

    Unfortunately, there is no easy solution to this. What we need is a 'version' field and an 'Update' button - See our Suggestions to Microsoft PowerPoint: Check for Updates

    Check Template
    Figure: This is how you can see if you are using the template file
  3. Do you know how to change the layout for your slides?

    Different layouts have different purposes. While the default layout is nice; it's not the only option available. But remember to keep all things in moderation. You want the audience to focus on the content, not guessing what layout the next slide will use.
    Figure: Don't use the same layout for all slides, instead choose the right 'layout' for the each slide (this is called the layout library)
  4. Do you limit the number of fonts?

    Each font or style (italics or bold) should be used consistently throughout your presentation. While a different font face or color is a simple way of highlighting certain terms you want for focus, too much of it will do exactly the opposite and distract the audience.

    The rules are:

    • Use one font per presentation
    • Use one style (eg. bold or color) per slide if possible
    • Steer clear of excessively bright colors or any flourished type face (both are hard to read)
    too many fonts used for headers
    Figure: Bad Example - 2 fonts are used, 2 styles are used, and flourished type face used. This all makes your slide hard to read for the audience
    Figure: Better Example - Even though there are a lot of words, the main ones are clear because there is only one font used, with color to emphasize
  5. Do you limit the amount of text on your slides?

    Your audience cannot listen to you and read your slides at the same time. Therefore, you should not show too much text on your slides. The best presenters use hardly any text at all in their slides.
    Too much text-content in one single slide
    Figure: Bad Example - Too much text/content on this slide
    Figure: Good Example - Less is more
  6. Slide Master - Do you have your logo and tag line at the bottom?

    Add your logo and tagline for marketing purposes. The general concept is to use a catchphrase that will sum up the tone of a brand and to reinforce the audience's memory of your company/product.

    Neither of these elements are intended to distract, so they are placed in the footer of the slide. It is present, but the influence is subtle and your audience's focus will remain squarely on the content.

    Figure: Include a Logo and Tagline at the bottom of the 'slide master' for branding purposes

    More Information: Do you know the way to add the tag line into slide master?

    Adding the tag line and logo in the slide master will duplicate it automatically across all slides. This will dictate the size and font of text present on all slides.

    Figure: Step 1 - Click 'Slide Master' button on the 'View' ribbon
    Figure: Step 2 - Add your Logo and Tagline at bottom of the slide
  7. Prior - Is your first slide 'Pre-setup'?

    You may be a natural born public speaker, but you will not be able 'wing' a presentation. Setting up a presentation takes time and practice. You want web pages already open, you want VMs ready and demos good to go.

    So document the steps to undertake prior to starting and you will present in a snappier fashion and not need to say the lame statement "hope the demo gods are kind to me today".

    Figure: Use a Pre-setup slide prior to the presentation and your pace will be snappier
  8. Prior - Do you setup a Twitter backchannel beforehand?

    Create a hashtag for your presentation prior to the presentation and display it your introduction slide! Twitter backchannels are valuable sources of feedback.
    Figure: A Twitter hashtag allows the attendees to have a backchannel that can be used to talk about your presentation, during your presentation
    Figure: (optional) Midway through the presentation have a slide where you say "Let's see if any questions have arisen"
  9. Do you have a few slides to find out a little bit about who is in your audience?

    If you are presenting to people who you already know, then you have an enormous advantage over someone who is going to face an audience they have never previously met.

    It is best to confirm who you are speaking to via a few slides. Then you can make subtle changes during your presentation so your audience gets:

    • What is important for them
    • Interesting to them
    • Relevant to them
    Figure: Ask "How many are developers here?"
    Figure: Ask "How many are managers here?"
  10. Do you have an 'About the Presenter' Slide?

    Always introduce yourself *after* you have asked the audience who they are. Don't be shy, tell them:

    • Who are you? (optional - include something personal)
    • What you do (your service or product)?
    • What makes you qualified to speak on this topic?
    Figure: Talk about yourself after you know the audience a little. It is not great to bring up the 'About' slide too early
  11. Do you use the same Agenda and Summary slide?

    A PowerPoint presentation is a verbal essay and it follows a structure. Shown at the start of the presentation, the Agenda slide sets expectation.

    At the end the Summary slide should be identical, and summarize what you just spoke about.

    Figure: Slide for agenda
    Figure: Slide for summary (is the same as agenda)
  12. Do you have a 'Section Break' slide?

    You should have a good cover slide for each section of your presentation. They are called "section break" slides and are meant to visually divide the content structure. These slides should be consistent so they do not confuse the audience.

    Figure: Good example – This is very clear that we are up to part 2 of the presentation
  13. Do you know the right way to do a 'Demo' slide?

    By placing a little visual cue on your slide, you can remind yourself to show a demo to the audience. Avoid displaying the word 'demo', because when out of time, presenters skip them and leave the audience felling ripped off.

    The icon allows you to skip it when running short on time, without upsetting the audience.

    Figure: Bad example - demo text shown. The problem is if you run out of time you need to say "Sorry, let's skip that demo since I am short of time". Then the audience feels cheated
    Figure: Use an icon to indicate a "demo time"
  14. Do you use standard question mark when you are going to ask the audience something?

    In a similar fashion to the Do you remind yourself to do a demo? rule, you can also add a visual cue for any audience participation you would like, such as questions or voting.
    Figure: Use an "?" image to tell the presenter to ask a question (if you don't have an image - just use the "?" text)
  15. Do you use high quality images?

    Never stretch small, low-resolution photos to make it fill up the space. This degrades the resolution and the image will appear very coarse and granular on the projection screen.

    The quality of your images is a subconscious message to your audience. If you use low quality pictures, then you unintentionally suggest the same message about your product.

    For this reason, we encourage you to choose only high quality photos and to avoid cartoons and word art.

    Figure: Bad Example - What is this monstrosity!
    Figure: Good Example - Looks classy, that.
  16. Do you keep your presentation simple?

    Making your presentation over-complicated is a very easy trap to fall into. Many speakers make the mistake of giving way too much information.

    In reality, giving a presentation is an entirely different genre from writing a technical report.

    KISS - In its polite form, this stands for Keep It Short and Simple.

    • In 20 minutes, you only have time for two major points
    • In 30 minutes you might make three major points
    • In 40-45 minutes you might be able to cover four major points, but three points and a longer time for questions would be a better alternative

    Most experienced and talented TV presenters stick to making three points in half an hour - this is surely a lesson for anyone planning a presentation.

  17. Do you make 'TODO' items in red?

    You might have plenty of ideas when you are preparing your presentation. Add these in your TODO items - utilize them to attract your attention later in case you run out of time.

    Note: We suggest you keep them consistent with VS.NET e.g. “TODO: xxx”

    Figure: Put your working "TODO:" notes in red
  18. Do you use the full slide for screenshots?

    Small images are hard to see. Remember your audience sitting at the back of the room. Especially for screenshots displaying important text, use all your real estate.
    Figure: Bad example - the image doesn't cover the whole slide
    Figure: Good example - Cover the whole slide with your image to make it easier for people to see from the back row
  19. Do you know how to change bullet points?

    Make your positive and negative points a tick and cross.
    Figure: Bad example - it's not clear which are good and bad points
    Figure: Good example - It's far more obvious which ones are the good points and which are the bad

    More information: How to do it

    Note: Microsoft should make this easier - see our suggestion

    Figure: Right click the desired text and navigate to "Bullets and Numbering..."
    Figure: Select "Picture..." then "Import..." in the new window.
    Figure: Paste your navigation path (eg. \\skunk\ssw\Images\TickCross) in the navigation path and select the appropriate image
    Figure: The bullet is now loaded!
    Figure: Congratulations - your bullet points now show your positive and negative points
    ​fixed 
  20. Do you use a word document to record your audience's Questions and Answers?

    Open a word doc at the start of your presentation. It is a good idea to have some interaction with your audience in the form of Q&A. This will instill a lasting message long after your presentation is over.

    By opening a word document on the screen or projector, everyone in the room will be clear about the questions being asked and the answers being given. This will also help you address any open issues after the presentation.

    Figure: A nice presenting technique is to write any questions and answers from your audience (live on stage)
  21. Do you finish your presentation with a 'Thank You' slide?

    Always end your presentation with a 'Thank You' slide. More than being polite, it makes clear that this is the last slide and presentation is over. You can also take the opportunity to inform the audience of your contact details.

    Even better; if you did a good job, you might get a clap (or in Adam's case, a cough).

    SSW Thank You slide
    Figure: Always finish with a ‘Thank You’ slide
  22. Do you know to Slideshare your PowerPoint (before the presentation)?

    ​What is Slideshare? Slideshare is an online archive of presentations and other documents. It is the best way to store your training material for search engines and is easily accessible.  

    ​​FodyAsyncErrorHandlerXamarinGoogleSearch.png

    ​Slideshare ranks well in google searches

    FodyAsyncErrorHandlerGoogleImageSearch.png

    ​​​Interestingly, keyword heavy slides from your PowerPoint​​​ will rank highly on Google Image Search​

    ​​​Check out the slideshare shown above: ​''Supercharging your Xamarin app! 3 must use libraries"

    Follow these steps to ensure you get as much coverage as possible before and after your presentation.

    1. Prepare your PowerPoint as normal. Refer to SSW Rules to Better Presentations.
    2. Work on your presentation from SharePoint to allow sharing.
    3. Get your content checked by a tester and a designer (See our Rule: Do you get someone to do a 'Test Please'?)
    4. Before you upload to Slideshare, add two slides:
      1. On the last slide, add a generic Slideshare link such as http://www.slideshare.net/YourAccount - E.g. http://www.Slideshare.net/SSWConsulting/
      2. On the first slide add a note that contains the version. This is so that you can compare easily what version is on SharePoint and what is on Slideshare
        Figure: Add the version number on the bottom right corner of your first or second slide
    5. Upload to Slideshare – Make sure the title doesn’t have the version number on it
    6. Go to “My uploads” and change the presentation title to have the version number Figure: Adding the version number to the title (after uploading) won’t affect the URL
    7. Create a "_OnSlideshare.txt" file with the Slideshare URL and add it to SharePoint on the same folder where the original PPT is
    8. Now you can present!
      Figure: the SSW example of a Slideshare link slide ​​​​
    ​​​YoutubeEmbedSlideShare.png
    Figure: If you presentation is being recorded be sure to send yourself a reminder email to embedd the video in to the slideshare.​​​​​​​
  23. Do you keep eye contact with the audience?

    Engaging with your audience when presenting can be a difficult skill and using eye contact is the key to gaining their attention. When presenting PowerPoint slides you may be tempted to look back at the screen behind you, but if you do that you will lose contact with the audience and it will lower their engagement.

    To avoid problems, first make sure that your presentation PC is setup correctly before the presentation so that you can trust that the display behind you is working once you start speaking.

    When making eye contact it is also important to scan across the audience to people in each part of the room. A friendly face can be easier to make eye contact with, so part of your skill needs to be to make contact and engage those that are not already warmed up to your presentation.

    Another important part of the skill of making eye contact to create eye contact with individuals, and not just “look out” at the audience as a group. Keeping moving eye contact from individual to individual as you cover the points in your presentation will keep them interested and engaged.

  24. Do you get your "PPT Tester" to do a 'Test Please' (preferably a designer)?

    Image is everything. Improve the way you market, educate and promote yourself with striking presentations. Your content might be great - but if it is displayed poorly - it will be overshadowed by its flaws. Use a designer to make your presentation stand out.

    Related links

    Do you conduct a "test please" internally and then with the client?

    Figure: Before and after... Designers can make anything look good
  25. Do you know how to compress your PowerPoint, e.g. from 26MB to 13MB?

    ​Unfortunately, when you “Send As Email” it doesn’t compress the file; this is how to compress a PowerPoint for emailing.

    Compress ALL your images

    05.png
    Figure: Go to the File menu
    06.png
    Figure: Select Options
    07.png
    ​Figure: Apply settings. You may compress this further down to 96ppi if you must.

    Compress individual images (not recommended)

    03.png
    Figure: Find the Image Compression option
    04.png
    Figure: Apply these settings and go for a coffee break. This may take a long time, depending on how many slides you have.

    Compress font - ONLY DO THIS WHEN YOU ARE FINISHED EDITING

    08.png
    Figure: Apply these settings. Once you remove the font, you’re more likely to get missing font bugs when editing the file, so only do this step when you are done.

    Save as "YourFileName_compressed.pptx."

    ​Do not override your original. You should always keep a high-res master of any media document.

    If you find your files are still rather big after compression, you can export the PowerPoint to determine which particular slide is taking up all that space. http://www.addictivetips.com/windows-tips/find-which-slide-in-your-powerpoint-presentation-is-the-largest-in-size/​

    The result

    ​Your own mileage may vary.

    10.png
    Figure: We've compressed this particular file down by 50%!

  26. Do you know to animate your summary slide

    When you show all of your content on a slide when it first loads many people will read ahead of what you are saying.

    The summary slide is very important. It's your chance to re-iterate what you have covered in the talk, and remind the audience of your key points.

    ​​You want them listening to you, not reading ahead.​​

    Animating the items on your Summary slide ensures they are listening to you, not reading ahead.

    summary-animation.gif
    Good Example: Animate the points on your Summary slide​
  27. Do you know to use Creative Commons images?

    You can get in trouble for using copyright images in PowerPoint presentations. Images like this are OK to use as long as the source is attributed.​

    If you don't have licenses for images, you should replace them with Creative Commons nes. You can get them from: