Impactful Presentations

May 27, 2010, Graphics

A truly effective PowerPoint presentation should clearly illustrate the speaker’s key points, highlighting and clarifying each concept for the viewer. And, in most cases, the simpler the points, the more impactful the presentation.You’ve written the first draft of your speech and pulled the key concepts out of the text for your slides. Now, take a look at each of your slides and ask yourself, “What is the main message of this slide?” and “What is the one important fact that I want the audience to remember?”

With these questions in mind, you can edit your slide even further, emphasizing just the one key message.

Often, the best way to simplify a chart is to eliminate it altogether. Look at your chart and again ask, “What is the one important fact I want the audience to remember?” Did sales increase 63% over the past 5 years? Is energy consumption down 18% from last year? Those simple statements are stronger than any chart. Use a compelling illustration or photo with that statement and pack even more punch.

Sometimes you really need to say, “Sales last year were $2.3 million and sales the year before were $1.8 million, giving us a 28% increase.” Use a chart, possibly a simple bar chart with no Y-axis, but reduce it to just those points. Label the bars with your sales figures. Give just as much emphasis on the slide to the main message: the 28% rise in sales. If the West Coast region showed the most dramatic increase, say it. Make that a separate slide to give it the importance it deserves. You don’t need to show every region’s monthly sales figures for the past two years and force your audience to see that trend for themselves.

Admittedly, having the right answer isn’t always enough. Just like in eighth grade algebra, sometimes it’s necessary to “show your work” to illustrate how you got to your conclusions. In these cases, consider providing your detail-heavy data charts in an appendix to your presentation. You can refer to those charts if questions arise.

As a presenter your audience is relying on you to effectively communicate the subject matter. Meet and exceed their expectations by keeping your facts simple, clear and strong.