How to Prepare Great PowerPoint Presentations – 12 tips

Prepare Better PowerPoint Presentations

PowerPoint can be great.  Or it can be crap. We all know what Death by PowerPoint feels like. But, how do you prepare better PowerPoint presentations and avoid mistakes?

How do you prepare your PowerPoint presentations? How do you build your presentations now?

If you want really good PowerPoint presentations, you may need to re-think how you write them.

If you switch to PowerPoint as soon as you hear the word ‘presentation’, then we can show you how you should build your presentation. We suggest you completely re-think how you approach your presentations.

First, understand how NOT to prepare a PowerPoint presentation.

This what most people do to prepare presentations:

1. Switch on their computer

2. Open up PowerPoint

3. Search out other presentations given recently

4. Start making changes to PowerPoint slides

5. Print out the first batch of slides

6. Scribble all over them

7. Re-edit these slides

8. Keep on at the slides until late at night

9. Work at it over the weekend

10. Give it to a colleague to look at

11. Incorporate those comments

12. Work until late at night again

13. Rehearse in the taxi on the way to the meeting

Then, start with:

“Hello, my name is John Smith and I am here today to talk about…..”

If this is how you prepare your PowerPoint presentations, then this advice is for you.   You’ll learn a lot that will help you prepare much more effective presentations and will build your presentation skills.

It is why so many presentations are deathly boring.  Learn how to prepare a business presentation.

How to prepare your PowerPoint presentation – 10 steps

1. Do NOT open PowerPoint

2. Be clear on who your audience is and what you want to achieve.

3. Have a single message that summarises your talk

4. Break down your presentation into clear parts 

5. Start your presentation with a high impact statement

6. Identify stories, anecdotes and examples 

7. Finish your presentation with a clear message, request or call to action 

8. Use clear simple language 

9. Incorporate pauses, short sentences, great eye contact

10. Work out what questions you could be asked

11. Now, work out if you really need any visual aids or handouts

12. Practise, practise, practise 

We have identified five common PowerPoint mistakes that send presentations to the graveyard:

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Five Ways Not to Prepare PowerPoint Presentations

1. The Wrong Document

When you work in PowerPoint, are you clear what you are producing?  Is it a handout, visual aids or your speaker’s notes? These three documents are as different as a book, a film and a film script. Too often, we see handouts projected on a screen, or what should be speaker notes printed and distributed.

If you are creating visual aids to accompany your talk, make sure they really are Visual Aids – something that reinforces what you say and helps the listener understand. If it’s a handout, make it self-sufficient.

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2. Not Easy for Your Audience

Your job as a presenter is to make it easy for your audience. A good slide is simple to interpret. That means using a clear hierarchy of information on the page. Lay out your messages, headings, evidence and facts in a logical way. If you can make it simpler, then do so.

Help me prepare better PowerPoint presentations

3. All Bullets and Text

The default PowerPoint approach, with lines of text and bullet points, usually means you are creating speakers notes for yourself. If you create slides to remind yourself what to say, it’s going to be bad for the audience. Instead, you should be making visual aids that always make it easier for your audience.

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4. Too Many Facts

Lists of facts do not work. Great communication needs stories, messages, evidence and facts. You should appeal to those who need emotional arguments as well as logical arguments. In fact, facts work best when they are embedded in a story or narrative.

5. Challenging the Audience to Read

When using Visual Aids, you need to understand how the human brain works. People cannot both read and listen at the same time. If given a choice, they will read, not listen.  Then when they tune in, they will hear you saying things they have just read. This means you, as the presenter, thinking through how you should help the audience absorb information.

Prepare PowerPoint Presentations Differently

So, when you next switch on PowerPoint ask yourself first whether this really is the best way to communicate your point. Sometimes, a report, a talk or an email can be more effective. And PowerPoint is NOT a planning tool.  You should only use PowerPoint at the end of your presentation planning process.

Put yourself into your audience’s shoes and imagine what they are experiencing. PowerPoint can be powerful, but only if you use it properly. Avoid PowerPoint Presentation mistakes.

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What can we learn from Harry Potter about better presentations?

One simple rule:  Like magic, PowerPoint is powerful, and to do good it has to be used properly.

Let me explain. Like the magic in Harry Potter, PowerPoint is a powerful tool. And the ease of using PowerPoint sometimes makes us forget what we are creating.

And the language we use to describe A Presentation makes us forget how we are going to communicate using the materials that PowerPoint produces.

Is Your Presentation a Book, Movie or Script?

When you talk about creating a presentation, are you always clear what you are making?

For example, is it a document to be read at a desk, or is it a document to be shown, or are they notes to help you remember what to say?

These three uses are as different as Harry Potter the book, Harry Potter the movie and Harry Potter the film script. They all have the same characters; they all have the same story. but they are all completely different.

So that you do not fall into this trap, we suggest changing the language you use in your firm:

Words you should Ban from your organisation

We suggest  you forbid the use of the following:

– Presentation

– Slide

– Deck

 Words you should Adopt instead

Instead,  use the following more useful words:

– Visual Aid

– Handout

– Speaker’s Notes

This simple change can transform the clarity of your communication and help you avoid Death by PowerPoint.

As Albus Dumbledore said:

“The truth is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with caution”

Start preparing better PowerPoint presentations now

Download our free ebook to start your journey towards becoming a Powerful Presenter. You’ll learn our 5-step process for transforming your presentations: inspirational, memorable and persuasive.

It’s full of practical tips and insights:

  • Increase your confidence
  • Persuade your audience
  • Engage your audience
  • Plan and structure your talks

Download your free copy of our Five Steps to Transform your Leadership Talks ebook now.

Help me prepare better presentations

For more information and a free consultation, contact our customer services director Louise Angus today. 

You will work with award-winning coaches who regularly support senior executives. 

Our coaching costs from just £395/hr.  And we work very fast.

Contact Louise Today

Contact us for a chat about how we can help you with your presenting.

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