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From the desk of Steve Lowell, Master Speaker and Mentor to those who speak in public.

A Few PowerPoint Tips

Sensational speakers speak from the soul, not from the screen. If you must use slides, such as PowerPoint, here are some tips:

Tip #1: Use PowerPoint, or other slides, only when it truly enhances your presentation. For each slide, ask yourself, "Does this slide actually fulfill a purpose, or is it just duplicating me?" If it's duplicating you, one of you is irrelevant. Get rid of it.

Tip #2: The text on your slides should never be less than 36 points in size. Any smaller, and your slides may not be recognizable to anyone more than a few rows from the front. Some people say 32 points is okay, but I’ve seen 32 point font get lost in the viewing. When it comes to the text on your PowerPoint slides, go big or go home.

Tip # 3: There are many reasons to avoid bullet points. The human brain recognizes and remembers "gist" before "detail." When your presentation is full of bullet points, you’re using detail to build gist, and this is completely opposite to how the brain works. Use large pictures, instead of text, and the retention factor jumps from 10% to 65% in most cases. (See page 234 of, “Brain Rules,” by Dr. John Medina).

Tip #4: Need another reason to avoid bullet points? Factor in that our brain accepts information using both an audio channel, and a visual channel. When we read words, our brain is using the AUDIO channel to convert those words into sound. If your audience is supposed to be listening to you speak, but they’re also trying to read bullet points, the audio channel becomes crowded, and the visual channel isn’t being used at all, substantially diluting the audience’s attention.

Tip #5: Each slide should have only one purpose, one point, one image, and/or one caption. As a rule of thumb, and yes, there are exceptions, if you can’t write your caption on a 3 x 3 inch sticky note, you have too many words for one slide. Your audience should be able to look at your slide and get the point in one second flat, then turn their attention back to you, the speaker, where it belongs.

Tip # 6: Remove anything your slides contain that doesn’t support your message. Things you should remove are logos, flashy backgrounds, borders, animations, and graphics that don’t mean anything. Your slides will only do one of two things, support your message, or detract from your message. Do you really need a logo on every slide? Doesn’t your audience already know who you are? Promote with your talent, not your slides.

Tip # 7: PowerPoint has awesome animation tools. Use them wisely to build the story with your slides, never to simply dazzle your audience. With every animation, ask yourself this, “Does this support my message, or is it just here because it’s cool?” If it’s just there for the cool factor, dump it. If it enhances your point, keep it in there. Remember, YOU ARE the presentation, your slides are only there to enhance.

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