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Best Practices for Slide Presentations

O We Want Them to GET IT!

No matter what communication medium we use; Visual, Written, or Verbal; the goal is the same. We want the recipient(s), as quickly as possible, to GET IT!

GETTING IT! means understanding the message. They don’t have to agree with all of it. They don’t have to agree with any of it. But, unless they GET IT! there cannot be a meaningful conversation going forward.

Your Audience has Three Learning Styles.

  1. Auditory – Learn by hearing and listening.

  2. These people really listen. They listen intently to the words and how they are spoken.

  3. Visual – Learn by seeing, looking, and watching

  4. Individuals who are visual learners look at details closer than others. They sometimes “see” things people with other learning styles don’t see.

  5. Kinesthetic – Learn by experiencing and doing.

  6. Folks who have this learning style like to be “hands on” when acquiring knowledge.

To one degree or another, each of use all these styles. One is usually dominant. Nothing is good or bad. It is what it is.

Appealing to two or more of these styles increases the odds the audience will GET IT!

This is an important reason to use slides, correctly, when presenting. The attendees see and hear your content and are more likely to GET IT!

Some Best Practices for using PowerPoint or Keynote.

First: Equipment and Accessories. 

If not in place and working, the show can’t go on!

Arrive early to setup and test everything.

  1. Bring your own laptop.

  2. Even if one is provided, and you have your presentation on a thumb drive, bring your computer.

  3. The version of PowerPoint/Keynote you have may not be the one on the provided computer.

  4. The ‘house computer’ could crash.

  5. Cables and adapters.

  6. USB, HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort, VGA adapters, and audio cables.

  7. You don’t know what you might run into. Bring them all.

  8. Remote Control.

  9. Don’t rely on a provided remote.

  10. Don’t have anyone but you control the progression of the slides, sound levels, etc.

  11. Don’t be a presenter who moves to the laptop and pushes keys throughout a presentation. It’s extremely distracting.

  12. Bring your own remote. It should control:

  13. Sound levels.

  14. Advance and reverse the slide on the screen.

  15. A ‘B’ Button that makes the screen go dark, taking the attention of the audience from the screen to you, the presenter, and where their focus should be.

  16. An Infrared laser light that can be used to draw attention to specific items in a slide.

  17. Extra batteries!

  18. It should have RF functionality.

  19. You won’t have to worry about line of sight due to the RF interface, so you can have a large degree of freedom when giving your presentations.

  20. External Speakers. 

  21. Bring your own.

  22. There may not be a sound system available to be tapped into and the small speakers on the laptop are likely to be inadequate.

  23. This is especially true if there is a short video in your presentation and you’re in a large room with many in attendance.

  24. Thumb Drive with backups.

  25. I’m an apple user and Keynote is my presentation software of choice. On my flash drive I’ll have a copy of the original presentation, plus PowerPoint and PDF conversions.

  26. It’s not a bad idea to also have these files, and perhaps the presentation application in a Dropbox or other Cloud storage area.

  27. Printed Backup.

  28. Have a complete printout of your slides in either Slider Sorter (PPT), or Light Table (Keynote) View. This is your final ‘Spare Tire.’ The computer or projector could go out. Having all your slides printed on several pieces of paper may be the only way to go. (I’ve been there!)

Second: Before Getting Started and More Reasons to Arrive Early.

  1. Check Light Levels in room.

  2. Not all projectors are the same brightness. Sometimes lights closer to the screen must be turned down in intensity.

  3. This is not a problem if connecting to a LED TV screen, but an HDMI cable will possibly be need.

  4. Check Seating.

  5. If they can’t see you and the screen the odds they’ll GET IT! are lessened.

  6. Rearrange if necessary.

  7. Handouts.

  8. Don’t hand them out!

  9. They are a distraction: to individuals in the audience, to others seated near them, and to the presenter.

  10. We cannot multi-task! The audience will not GET IT! if they are looking at papers and trying to listen and watch you at the same time.

  11. Stand to the Left (as the audience faces you) of the screen. 

  12. We read left to right. (Unless presenting in Israel, where you’ll want to position yourself on the right side of the screen!)

  13. Use Presentation Display View on your Computer.

  14. Set this up in the Keynote or PowerPoint software.

  15. You can see the slide the audience is viewing, the next one, and notes!

  16. This makes delivery much easier than using mirror image where you see the same thing as the audience. Your memory of what the next slide is doesn’t always work!

Third: Your Slide Show.

The Slideshow is a Tool. You are the presenter.

Plain and Simple is the Rule.

  1. Templates

  2. Don’t use them!

  3. Most templates are Clutter and Clutter is distracting.

  4. No corporate themes, logos, or contact information, etc.

  5. If you’re good, they will contact you.

  6. If your presentation is poor, it doesn’t matter how many times you place your contact and company information on slides.

  7. A plain white background works well. Think Zen-like!

  8. Slide Build Ins, Build Outs, and Transitions.

  9. These  should be simple ‘Dissolve.’

  10. Most others distract the audience from your message.

  11. Text

  12. 32 point minimum. I prefer 64.

  13. As little as possible!

  14. Bullet Points Kill – Kill the Bullet Points!

  15. Bullet Points do not reinforce a presenter’s message!

  16. They:

  17. Confuse the audience.

  18. Complicate the message.

  19. Conflict with the presenter.

  20. We cannot multi-task.

  21. Images!

  22. The answer to not having text on slides is to use high quality, universally understood, Images!

  23. We think in terms of images. If I say the word, ‘apple.’ you probably don’t see the letters a-p-p-l-e. You see something round, red, and with a stem coming out of it, correct?

  24. Purchase images with white backgrounds and use very few on each white background slide.

  25. You provide the text with your spoken words.

  26. Image + speaker’s words = Audience GETTING IT!

  27. Periodically, throughout your presentation, make the screen go BLANK. 

  28. The eyes of the audience will go from the screen to You, the presenter. This is what you want!

  29. If they are looking at you, they see your nonverbal communication. NonVerbal trumps verbal. “We believe what we see!”

  30. Pressing the ‘B’ Button on the keyboard makes the screen go Black.

  31. Pressing the ‘W’ Button on the keyboard makes the screen go White

    1. Our eyes are drawn to the light, hence black is better.

  32. Better than walking to the computer to press keys, or having someone else do this task, the ‘B’ Button on the remote control is preferred.

  33. Sound and Video.

  34. Audio clips and short movies break up a presentation and add value.

  35. I use a ‘Wrong’ Buzzer sound on slides to grab attention for things not to do.

  36. I use the video of a superstar talking about the importance of Failure to reinforce that message to my audience.

All the Best Practices for Slide Presentations only work well if there is great content presented in a professional manner.

This site is full of articles on those components of the presentation.

This stuff works!

And if you want more stuff that works, buy my book! Amazon is discounting it right now. It’s a great deal!

Till next time, Fred Miller – NO SWEAT! —————————————————————————–

For More Presentation Tips go to

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About the Author Fred E. Miller is a speaker, a coach, and the author of the book, “No Sweat Public Speaking!” Businesses and individuals hire him because they want to improve their Public Speaking and Presentation Skills.

They do this because they know: Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunities.

They also know: We perceive really great speakers to be Experts. Perception is reality, and we like to work with Experts.

He shows them how to: Develop, Practice, and Deliver ‘Knock Your Socks Off Presentations!’ with – NO SWEAT!


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