Public speaking specialist, Hanieh Vidmar, helps entrepreneurs deliver effective business presentations by revealing the seven mistakes commonly made on PowerPoint slides.
Delivering presentations is one of the most effective tools to use for business, self-development and for leveraging time and knowledge. It’s one of the most powerful ways to deliver a message and create an impact. I’ve delivered hundreds of presentations in my career and I plan to deliver many, many more. I’ve been an audience member many times too and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen speakers destroy their presentation with bad use of their slides.
According to some sources, approximately 35 million PowerPoint presentations are created each day! That’s a lot of PowerPoint presentations. Yet many of those presentations fail due to lack of knowledge on how to use a slide deck effectively and use it to the speakers advantage.
Slides are there to support you and your presentation and were invented to help presenters deliver their message more effectively and save time when using visual aids. Can you imagine having to constantly write on a whiteboard throughout your presentation? A slide deck can really be your best friend if you use it correctly.
I see the same mistakes over and over. In this article, I’m going to share 7 common errors presenters make when it comes to using slides in their PowerPoint presentations.
Too many slides
Have you ever been to a presentation where the speaker seems to have far too many slides? Either extra ones they haven’t bothered to edit out from previous presentations or just too many to illustrate what they’re saying. If you really need 101 slides, go ahead. But if you can, try to reduce the number down.
Check for redundant slides and try to convey a few points per slide to reduce the number you need to scroll through while you’re speaking. And remember, you don’t have to have a slide to illustrate every single thing you plan to say.
As long as you’re well prepared, you can absolutely deliver a message without having a slide to back it up. As a general rule, the fewer slides you have, the better.
Too much text
Another common error is chunks of text on a slide or a long list of bullet points. This is boring and unproductive. Your audience will stop paying attention to you and start focusing on your slide or your audience won’t read your slide because they’re listening to you.
Some audience members are adamant to copy everything they see and in turn, stop listening to you. Too much text on a slide is information overload and creates a negative impact in your presentation. One sentence, a few words or a keyword is the amount of text that should be on each slide. Your audience are there to hear and watch your presentation not read your presentation.
Using the wrong colours together can be illegible and cause headaches for the person looking at it. Avoid using dark text on a dark background. The less colours you use, the better it is.
Choosing your brand colours on a light or white background is far more effective than filling in the background with various colours and being all fancy with the presentation. You won’t get any browny points for showing the audience that you know how to play with colours on a slide deck. Keep it simple!
One thing that irritates me is inconsistency on slides. I’ve seen slides that have different fonts, font sizes, layouts and random colours. The layout, branding and design need to be consistent throughout. Staying consistent will allow your audience to focus on you and your message rather than start thinking about why every slide is different from the one before.
Having slides that are messy, uneven and askew can be quite a distraction. Creating slides with an even layout is super easy. You have guidelines that assist you in centering images and texts. Don’t place image and text just anywhere. Keep your slides neat and tidy as doing so shows that you’ve made an effort with your presentation.
You’ve heard “there’s no such thing as perfect” many times and it’s true to an extent but the spelling on your slides must be perfect! If spelling isn’t your strongest point, ask someone to check your slides for you.
One of my highest spending clients once told me that if there were spelling mistakes on my marketing material, she would never work with me.
Unfortunately, the same attitude applies with many people. Make sure the spelling on your slides are correct and consistent as one error can really be the end all.
Overuse of transitions
If you spent your time creating slides with fancy text, images, borders and too many transitions, you’ve wasted your time! It’s a major distraction to watch a presentation with lots of transitions and animations. They are best used to emphasise certain points so keep your presentations straightforward and professional and avoid using sparkly, flying around or zoom transitions. If you do use them, use simple, plain animations and keep it to a minimum.
Your audience is there to watch and hear you speak. Don’t distract them with unnecessary clutter on your slides. The less you have on your slide the better. Share key points or key images on your slides and talk to your audience. PowerPoint was born to assist the speaker. Use it to your advantage and you can create and deliver a presentation that rocks.
Hanieh Vidmar is a speaker, trainer and former TV Presenter. She’s delivered pitches on behalf of other companies, won contracts and raised over £1m in funds. Her goal is to help as many people overcome their fears of public speaking so they can achieve bigger and better goals with confidence.
Download Hanieh’s free article “How to Design a Presentation in 60 Minutes or Less”
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