Presentation
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Insights on Communication Skills and Relationship Building

How to Improve Presentation Skills with 5 Simple PowerPoint Hacks

Posted by Elizabeth Levey on January 30, 2015

by Elizabeth Levey

elizabeth-levey-1Hacks. Shortcuts.  Tips.  Quick-fix solutions.  We’re all looking for them.  Because frankly, some of them are great!  Who doesn’t want to know how to use a bobby pin to get all the toothpaste out of a tube, or how bread clips can salvage broken flip-flops?  Well, we’ve got some great hacks, too. Especially when it comes to presenting with the ever-so-commonly used PowerPoint.  PowerPoint can go a long way to supporting your presentation, but can easily distract or overwhelm your audience if not well-wielded. 

Check out how to improve presentation skills overall with some of our PowerPoint hacks. Turn your next presentation into a real show stopper!

1. Make a point

Let’s say you’ve come to a critical point in your presentation, and you want all eyes (and attention) on you.  Blackout the screen by pressing the “B” key!

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When you’re finished espousing your wisdom, press any key and you’ll return to your slide show.

 

2. Follow the Rule of 6:

When doing a live presentation, generally speaking, your slide deck should have:

  • No more than 6 bullets per slide
  • No more than 6 words per bullet
  • No more than 6 word slides in a row
  • And take no more than 6 seconds to read

Sure, you can beef up your slides if they need to stand on their own outside your presentation, like in an email or posted on a website, but in a LIVE performance, 6 is your lucky number.

Here’s another rule for you…

 

3. The 75% rule.

You’ve got an hour to speak.  So what length of slide show presentation do you prepare? Yep – only 45 minutes worth. Why?  To give you time to handle the unexpected (like technical issues), time for a healthy Q&A session, and time for an adequate conclusion. Worst case scenario, everyone will get to leave a little early — GASP!  And how do you know how long your presentation is? …

 

4. PRACTICE

Presentations can be stressful, nerve-wracking experiences. But they don’t have to be. The BEST way to combat this is by practicing your presentation, out loud, on your feet.  It is not enough to think, “Well, I’ve got 30 slides, and I figure it’s about 2 minutes per slide, so yeah — I’ve got 60 minutes.” Nope.  Not even close.  You need to time yourself.  A great way to do it? Use the Presenter Mode in PowerPoint. You have a timer – right there in front of you:

 

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Also at your disposal in Presenter Mode: a place to add notes for yourself, and a preview of the next slide to come.

 

5. Avoid Audio and Video Additions

Sure, if you are a technical wiz, there are many many opportunities to show off using PowerPoint, but also a greater risk that something will malfunction.  Audio and video elements are invariably the first things to go. Don’t end up in a Michael Bay situation, where you are stuck without your presentation due to a technical fault and end up throwing in the towel and embarrassing yourself.

 

Like these hacks so far?  Tune in next week and we’ll share a few more to use when presenting with PowerPoint! And how about sharing some of your own hacks in the comments?

Here's something else you might enjoy: 

 

demonstration speech