When it comes to Power Point presentations, a good picture really is worth 1,000 words. The importance of the images that accompany your presentation is not to be underestimated. Images help tell your story by highlighting key concepts that complement your topic and helping to maintain audience attention. Additionally, a good structure is elemental to your presentation. The architecture of the talk aids audience understanding and has the added benefit of leading you from point to point, helping you remember what you want to say.
Construct your talk
Your presentation is shaped by what you must communicate and achieve. You may be asked to inspire a group to support a particular cause and call to action. When in a sales process, your job is to persuade the prospective client of the value of your product or service. Storytelling is appropriate in both scenarios. Your story will help the audience connect to you and the goal you aim to achieve and portray you as authentic and trustworthy. The story will fit within your presentation and both will have a beginning, middle and end and will be easy to follow and concise.
Motivational talks fit easily into a Past – Present – Future structure, which is ideal for allowing the speaker to first provide the history of the situation, then describe the current state of affairs and finally culminate with a rally of enthusiasm and support for the call to action that will bring about the preferred future (outcome). A Compare – Contrast structure works well for sales presentations, as it allows the speaker to communicate the advantages of the products or services as compared to competitors’. A Cause – Effect structure is useful in either scenario, as it allows the speaker to describe the underlying logic of his/her position.
Speak, do not read
Text-heavy slides cause audience members to instinctively read the text and tune out the speaker, a detriment to the talk. Master presenter Steve Jobs was famous for the one word slide. It is a daring act. I tried it once, found it effective and I will do it again. In order to make the tactic work, rehearse the talk and rehearse some more, until you know your material cold. Too much text on the slides, even bullet points, draws attention away from you, the star of the show. Yet a few well-chosen words serve to focus audience attention and draw them into the subject. Think large font and few words.
Quality images complement your talk
Images used in your presentation should complement your topic and be of good quality. There are websites that have thousands of free images available for upload. The free images used here are from MorgueFile http://morguefile.com. Attractive images help to maintain audience interest and illustrate relevant themes.
Charts and graphs
Charts, graphs and diagrams are an excellent way to illustrate statistical and financial data and demonstrate trends that occur over a period of time. A colorful bar graph, pie chart or flow chart helps the audience grasp information that may otherwise seem too complex. A visual interpretation can be very helpful and, as noted above, help to maintain audience interest as it facilitates comprehension.
Grab audience attention when you open the presentation with an unexpected fact that speaks to their priorities, values or concerns and advances your purpose. The speaker must quickly lead the audience to focus on the topic because time is finite. You may want to open your talk with a one-word slide (it worked for me). Build the rest of your presentation to answer and address that fact, following your chosen structure.
End with an ask
At the conclusion of your presentation, give a brief summary to tie together your main points and help the audience remember what is important. Next, make your call to action and ask the audience to do something. In a motivational talk, you may ask the audience to support a certain strategy or vote in a certain way. In a sales presentation, you will ask the prospective client to hire you or purchase your product or service and to do so now, rather than later.