5 Tips to Pimp Your PowerPoints

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We’ve all been there before, sitting through a PowerPoint presentation that’s so boring we almost begin to feel embarrassed for the speaker before getting angry at him or her for wasting our time. You know, the kind of presentation where each slide is filled with 800 words that appear to be written in 8-point font, and they’re continuously referenced and read out loud over the ensuing 40 minutes.

If you want your audience to take you seriously, you’ve got to create an effective PowerPoint presentation—it’s as simple as that. To be successful, you’ll need to remember that humans are visual creatures, so the appearance of your PowerPoint slides will play a deciding role in how your words and thoughts are received. On top of that, you have to keep in mind that your audience’s attention span might not be as long as you hoped—so err on the side of brevity.

If you’re looking to spruce up your PowerPoint presentations, considering these five tips before creating your next slideshow:

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1. Keep your design simple.

Nobody wants to look at a slide that’s completely covered with zany fonts, a plethora of text, an inconsistent color scheme, eight charts and 20 dissimilar photos. So as you go about designing your slideshow, remember to keep it simple.

A presentation that’s too loud, so to speak, will risk alienating your audience. No one wants to have to sort through a cacophony of images, logos, text and colors to try to make sense of what the main point of your slides are. So strip them down the bare essentials, creating a presentation that’s clean, crisp and easy on the eyes.

2. Be specific, and then be even more specific.

OK, so what about the person who writes complete sentences on his or her slides, reading each one verbatim while giving their presentation? We’ve all been in the audience there, too, and it’s not a pleasant place to be.

The text you write on your slides is supposed to supplement your presentation—not drive and define it. When you put too many words on PowerPoint slides, you risk becoming a monotone drone who completely isolates his or her audience—the audience who, by the way, can read the slides on their own.

So write concise bullet points and then tighten them up even more. Next, raise your font sizes so you can make sure that even the dude sitting in the back row has no problem reading your slides.

3. Words are art, too.

Many presenters might overlook this simple fact: The way words appear on slides ties into how an audience will receive a presentation. After all, with so many fonts, sizes and color schemes available, words can become art—or at least serve a complementary role to it.

So don’t neglect the appearance of your words. Play around with fonts, sizes and colors—as well as capitalization and punctuation—and come up with a killer combo that’s pleasing to the eye.

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4. Remember: Stock templates are boring.

How many times have you stared at a stock PowerPoint template? While on their own, such templates might not be too ugly, most business professionals have seen them countless times and just want to look away.

To avoid blending in with the pack from the get-go, consider custom designs. That way, once you begin you presentation, no one in your audience will suspect you of taking the easy way out while designing your slideshow.

Worried about finding the right custom template? Don’t be. There’s almost a never-ending stockpile of free templates on the Web. Don’t believe me? You can find more than 47,000 of them right here.

5. Repeat your key points.

Even if you’re the President of the United States, people don’t really care about the totality of what you’re saying during a presentation. Sure, they’ll try to pay attention, some better than others. But our attention spans are finite, so it’s only a matter of time before eyes and ears start darting around the room.

To make sure that your audience takes away the crux of your presentation no matter what, consider repeating your key points throughout your presentation.

For example, let’s say you have five major points to make during your speech. You could insert a slide that summarizes the points you’ve made each time after you make a new one. This repetition will certainly help your audience remember your message.

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