How to Create a Captivating Presentation [12 Steps]
Presentations are a powerful medium that can quickly disseminate information and help teach people new ideas. Unfortunately not every slide deck is effective at reaching this goal. Do you remember the boring professor you had in college who used to read his PowerPoint slides verbatim? By the time the lectures were over, you and half the class were usually asleep with your faces stuck to your desks in piles of drool. To truly create a captivating presentation that engages the masses you must capture people’s attention in an enchanting manner. But how can you design slides to draw such interest or exclamations of beauty?
Here are 12 steps to create a captivating presentation, straight from inception to delivery:
1 Organize Your Idea in an Outline
The first step to creating an awesome presentation is to orgazine your thoughts in an outline. This will simplify the design process. Instead of rushing from idea to PowerPoint, which can make for some hurried and fragmented slides, an online will help you create a stellar presentation with clear thought transitions.
If you can encapsulate your idea into a single captivating sentence, you’re halfway home. – Len Wein
2 Create an Attention-Grabbing Title
One of the most important aspects of any content you create is giving your work an attention-grabbing title. You should optimize your titles around potent keywords to enhance discovery on social media and Google search. In general, the shorter the better: think of the 140 character limit on Twitter.
3 Create a Captivating Cover Slide
Like books, we tend to judge presentations by their covers. Your presentation has about three seconds to convince Facebook or SlideShare users to open your presentation – and your cover slide is the only thing convincing them to click through. This makes the title and cover almost more important than the content of your entire presentation!
4 Pick Cool Colors
Pick two or three colors to use throughout your presentation – don’t overdo it. Keep it simple. Establishing a consistent color theme will not only help brand your company, but will also make your slides look more professional and easier to consume. Here are five awesome color tools for design.
5 Add Sharp Images
Find stunning images that will suck your audience in for more. The best size to use for images in PowerPoint slides is 1024 X 768 pixels (a 4:3 ratio). Anything smaller or larger could appear blurry or pixelated in the regular slide view. There are also three general sources for finding great images for your slides: your own pictures (screenshots and photography), Creative Commons (Flickr and creativecommons.org) and royalty free stock photo sites (i.e. iStockphoto and Shutterstock). When you use an image licensed via Creative Commons, you’ll generally include attribution on the given slide or at the end of your presentation.
6 Communicate Information Visually
Humans are visual creatures by nature and your presentation should take advantage of this. Using graphs, charts, and other methods of visualizing data can help deliver information to your audience fast – just don’t overburden your audience with too many stats!
7 Select Standout Fonts
To help establish a consistent theme, choose between one and three fonts to use in your slideshow. You should stay away from popular yet boring fonts such Arial or Times New Roman. Remember, you’re looking to impress people, here! In my opinion, some fresh fonts for presentation design include Alternate Gothic No. 2, Lobster Two, and Rockwell. And remember: it’s important to keep your fonts large. Anything less than 30 points is too small. In the world of presentations, the bigger the text, the more readable your words.
When you make your fonts bigger you’ll notice it will be harder to fit many words on one slide – and this is a good thing. If you’re struggling to fit all of your words onto one slide you’re probably using too many words, and this overflow will only bore your audience. (Remember that dreaded college professor reading through his slides?) Take advantage of this moment to cut down on your word count. Remember, your presentation should be a visual supplement to the real talk you’re going to give – you don’t have to include every word in your slides to make your point.
Note: if you plan to share your presentation visa SlideShare or another online platform, make sure you save or embed the fonts used into your presentation. If you do not save your fonts before you upload your presentation you might see a very different style of text published onto SlideShare. That could really screw up your slideshow and mojo! To save fonts to your presentation in PowerPoint, use the Save option.
8 Videos Can Be Sexy
Adding rich media such as videos to your presentations can be a hit. Add videos to your slides by embedding them from websites like YouTube or, even better, inserting video files directly into a slide. If you’re going to include videos, though, make sure they play within your presentation. It’s always best to run through your slides on the computer (or platform, in the case of SlideShare) you’ll be using to present and test that the video plays properly. Otherwise you might end up like the sorry fellow in this hilarious TED Talk prank:
Once you’ve completed your master slides it’s time to practice a few test runs in front of friends, or at least a mirror. Repetition will make your presentation flow more smoothly and will help you work out all the kinks.
10 Engage Your Audience
It’s presentation time. You need to put all the work that went into your presentation behind you and focus on your audience. It’s time to lose the notes! Eye contact is a must to establish rapport with your audience and appear confident at all times. Remember the professor who bored his class to death by reading off his slides, and keep your eyes on your audience!
11 Relax and Take Your Time
Slow down and take a few breaths. When we stand in front of a large audience our natural reaction is to speed things up and fly through our slides. But keep this in mind: the mere fact you’ve been chosen to present means the audience is pre-disposed to respect you. Though being on stage may make you feel under attack, the audience doesn’t doubt your capabilities. And neither should you. This is your time to shine and command the will of the audience. You may never get this opportunity again to deliver your ideas in front of these people, so milk that for everything it’s worth. And remember to have a good time! Your attitude, body language, and lack of nervousness can go a long way toward giving a great presentation.
12 Remember to Recap
Always close a presentation by summarizing what you’ve said. You’ve spent the last 20 minutes or so spinning your audience’s worlds upside down with your groundbreaking ideas. These ideas can be hard to grasp in one sitting, so include a summary slide at the end of your presentation and, if possible, consider handing out pamphlets your audience can use to take notes within your slides.
Follow these steps and you’ll be touring universities to give graduation speeches and TEDx presentations in no time.
Our responsibility is to captivate you for however long we’ve asked for your attention. – Aaron Sorkin
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