The Three Components of an Effective PowerPoint Presentation

People take Microsoft PowerPoint training to learn how to use the software, but using PowerPoint is not the same as making a good presentation. You need skills beyond what you learn in Microsoft PowerPoint training. There are three elements in a good PowerPoint talk: the speech, the report, and the slides.

The Most Important Component – Your Presentation

This doesn’t mean the PowerPoint slides; it means your speech. “Speech” may not the best word since that brings to mind a speaker who drones monotonously while listeners daydream. The goal of your presentation is communication. The best communication imparts information through emotion.

We have two sides to our brains, one concerned with facts and figures and one with creativity and emotion. A speaker who appeals to both sides communicates the most effectively. Think about the last time you heard a speaker who really held your attention. It was probably someone animated and engaging.

To deliver a great presentation, you don’t need to be overly animated or attempt to tell lots of jokes. Giving a great presentation is about connecting with your audience, speaking to them rather than at them, and holding their attention. It’s about interacting with your audience more than you interact with your PowerPoint slides.

The Second Most Important Component – Your Document

At the beginning of the presentation, DO tell the audience you will be handing out a document containing all the details of the presentation. This way, they won’t need to take notes and can pay attention to the presentation. There are two absolute “don’ts” regarding this document. DON’T hand it out at the beginning or people will tend to ignore you as they read it. DON’T just make copies of your PowerPoint slides.

The report can be as detailed as you like. Unlike your talk, people can skim through it and focus on the areas important to them. Putting details in here keeps you from losing your audience due to information overload.

The Least Important (But Still Important) Component – Your PowerPoint

Perhaps the least important element in your PowerPoint presentation is the actual PowerPoint! It’s still significant, but it shouldn’t be the core of your presentation. It should reinforce your speech, not replace it. It should contain some information, but nowhere near the level of detail of your report.

Keep your slides simple so they don’t distract from the message. You will be tempted to use all the cool techniques from your Microsoft PowerPoint training; resist the urge. Clip art and slide transitions don’t enhance your presentation; they obscure it.

Graphics are effective tools, probably more effective than words on PowerPoint slides. Not the graphs and charts you learned about in Microsoft PowerPoint training, but pictures that evoke emotion and drive your point home.

A good presentation has these three elements. If you show PowerPoint slides, read from the slides, and hand out copies of the slides, you haven’t incorporated three elements. You’ve used one element three times. The components should be distinct and complementary, each building on the other two to create a harmonious whole.

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