Making a PowerPoint presentation is about more than presenting facts to an audience. It's about educating others and gaining their confidence in your professional skills and opinion. Unfortunately, some basic mistakes can lead to bad presentations that undermine viewer confidence instead of building it up. Avoid these seven common PowerPoint mistakes, and you'll have the power to impress any audience.
1. Too Much Text
Putting too much text on a single slide is a cardinal sin when it comes to PowerPoint. An excess of text is hard to read and can be discouraging to viewers. Remember that your audience wants to see aesthetically striking visuals that complement what you're saying. They don't want to see a repeat of what they've just heard on the screen. For great presentations, use text primarily for titles and bullet points. Longer sentences should be reserved for only those times when they are absolutely essential to audience understanding.
2. Too Much Clutter
The human eye naturally seeks simplicity and clarity. If you clutter your PowerPoint slides with an abundance of text and graphics, you'll confuse viewers and lose their attention. Having too much happening on the screen is overwhelming. Instead of cluttering each slide with as much stuff as possible, prioritize simplicity. Use only the text and images that are needed to support your points. Remember that one powerful image will do more to move your audience than ten okay images grouped together on one slide.
3. Bad Contrast
When you read a book, magazine or newspaper, you almost invariably see black text on a white background. This formula is pleasing to the eye and increases readability. If you venture too far from black on white with PowerPoint, you're bound to end up with bad presentations. Poor contrast destroys readability and makes your presentations look amateur. As a rule, avoid dark text on dark backgrounds as well as light text on light backgrounds. Stick with dark text on a light background or vice versa to ensure readability and attract audience attention.
4. Reading Out Slides Verbatim
One of the biggest PowerPoint mistakes you can make is to simply read slides out as they appear on the screen. It's safe to assume that almost everyone in your audience can read what's on the slides in front of them. Simply repeating this information makes for a boring presentation. The audience will quickly tune you out and miss any important asides you make later in the presentation. Instead of reading slides out verbatim, think of them as a visual complement to what you're actually saying.
5. Talking to the Screen
All great presentations have one thing in common: They're designed with the audience in mind. You've expended time and effort to create your presentation, and you want to make sure that your audience is listening. That means that you must direct your attention to the audience, not to the screen. Too many presenters stare at the screen while speaking instead of looking out at the audience. No doubt you know what's on your PowerPoint slides. Aside from glancing to make sure that you've queued the right slide, you shouldn't be looking at the screen. Think of a presentation as an opportunity to develop a relationship with the audience.
6. Adding Extreme Transitions & Animations—Just Because
Animation and transition effects can add punch to PowerPoint presentations and help focus audience attention. If you overuse them, though, your audience will become distracted and is unlikely to hear what you have to say. While adding some transitions is fine, be sure that they serve a purpose such as directing viewer attention to a certain portion of the slide. Don't use transitions or animations just because you can. Overuse of these catchy features makes for a presentation that seems all too cliche.
7. Failing to PracticeProfessional actors don't get in front of an audience without practicing their lines. There's no difference when it comes to PowerPoint presenters. Doing a run through of your presentation is an absolute must. It will help you nail your timing and will ensure that you've prepared enough information to share with your audience. Doing a practice run ahead of time will also help you iron out any technical issues you may experience on presentation day.
Creating a PowerPoint presentation requires an investment of time and effort. Making great presentations should be your top priority. After all, bad presentations don't offer a good return on investment and can actually damage your professional reputation. Always strive for clarity and professionalism when creating a presentation.
Of course, avoiding PowerPoint mistakes can be harder said than done. If you're struggling to create a stunning presentation, hiring a professional designer might make sense. At Synapsis Creative, we're PowerPoint and design pros who know how to make engaging, flawless presentations. No matter the subject of your presentation, we can help you create a PowerPoint that meets your every need.
Starting off with a design template can help you avoid some PowerPoint mistakes. To download one of our free templates, click on the button below.