We’ve all been there at one point or another. We walk into a meeting room or conference space to be greeted by yet another PowerPoint presentation. Anxiety starts to build up. The clock on the wall starts to tick even slower. And before long, you are experiencing death by PowerPoint as you are subjected to a boring and uninspiring presentation that seems to drag on forever.
There are few things worse than being asked to sit through a poorly designed – and delivered – presentation. It’s time that you’ll never get back. It’s a problem we have helped thousands of clients solve throughout the years, revitalising stale and dull presentations by following simple but effective rules. All it takes is good planning and attention to detail, and you too can ensure you are never found guilty of causing death by PowerPoint ever again.
1. Use provocative imagery and questions
It can be tricky striking the right balance between focusing attention and boring your audience. The images you choose for your presentation can make or break how people engage with it. The speaker may have all the charisma in the world, but if they are not focussed on the speaker, then you want to get their attention onto the presentation content.
Using stock images is a good starting point. Although, not just any type of standard image will do. Remember, audience members have probably seen a lot of similar imagery and can instantly switch off if it says nothing to them. The words being said by the speaker should always be the most important thing, but you can also capture the audience’s imagination through inventive use of imagery.
This can be anything from posing questions on screen to creating simple but effective graphics that helps to realign their concentration levels. If minds have drifted away from the speaker for a moment, by asking a related question on screen you are still keeping them involved in the topic. Most people are inquisitive and want to find an answer that satisfies their curiosity. They don’t have to blurt it out in front of everyone but it’s a small trick to help manage disengagement.
The ultimate aim is making sure your presentation is remembered by the audience long after it has finished. Challenging them visually keeps them out of a bored, passive state. No-one wants to experience death by PowerPoint, and people are happy when PowerPoint designers do their bit to make them feel part of the process.
2. Think about what the audience really wants?
It can be easy to be seduced by your own creativity. It’s something we’ve all fallen victim to at one point or another. When you start a creative project of any kind, you can quickly become lost in the art of what you are doing and forget that other people may be expecting something different.
This is a danger PowerPoint designers always need to be aware of when putting together a presentation. It also applies to speakers who may go off piste as they become enamored by the sound of their own voice. The audience at the presentation are there for a reason and should remain the focal point of the content and delivery from beginning to end.
When we as PowerPoint designers are sitting down to start creating the design of the presentation, it always remains a collaborative process. Working in tandem with the person or team providing the content will ensure both elements can be fully optimised. It also serves as a constant reminder of who the presentation is for and what they will be hoping to hear.
Every business depends on listening to their customers. Without it, there is no way of knowing if you are delivering the right product or service. The same principle can be applied to a presentation. Never think you always know best and be prepared to take a step back to review the content and design to ensure you give those who have taken the time to listen the respect they deserve.
3. Think outside of the box!
Get creative. Be original. Think outside the box. These are common marketing phrases that are sometimes applied where they shouldn’t be. Not every situation requires PowerPoint designers to provide an innovative solution. Each presentation and design has to be assessed on its own merits depending on the client and its purpose. However, when the moment is right to try out some cutting edge ideas, there are some fantastic tools available to avoid death by PowerPoint.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) offer one of the best ways to wow any audience. The technology is far more accessible than you may believe and at a price most businesses will be able to afford. Whether it’s using something as simple as Google Cardboard or utilising PlayStation VR to spruce up a presentation, there are very few limits as to what PowerPoint designers can create today.
Instead of relying on 2D pictures and videos, VR transforms the image into 3D, instantly making the presentation interactive. By capturing the imagination of your audience with this groundbreaking technology you also gain their full attention. All the information and details you want them to absorb and remember becomes far easier to deliver. Most of the audience will not have experienced a VR presentation before, and it also positions your business as a forward thinking company.
Augmented reality takes the immersive concept even further. The technology blends the real world with computer-generated imagery. PowerPoint designers may, in the future, be able to create presentations that are even more immersive, connecting the audience directly with a product or idea that can be interpreted in the world around them.
No one wants to be responsible for causing death by PowerPoint and by taking note of these three principles you can ensure you have a guilt-free conscience. While creating a powerful and engaging presentation is not something that can be done overnight, with careful planning and understanding of what you want to achieve, you can amaze any audience.