Is your audience visibly interested and excited when they watch your PowerPoint presentations? Or do they stare into space, squirm in their seats, and check their watches repeatedly as you speak? Becoming a great public speaker doesn’t happen overnight, but you have no chance of success if your audiences hate your PowerPoint presentations.
You can avoid annoying your audience by ensuring you’re not guilty of making the 10 mistakes described below. Next time you create a PowerPoint presentation, check it against this list to make sure you’ll captivate your audience rather than irritate them.
1. Blinding Colors
Before you start working on the design of your PowerPoint slides, consider where your intended audience will view them, and choose a color palette that will be easy for people to see without blinding them. Choose a primary color palette of no more than three colors — one color for primary text, one color for callouts, and a third color to highlight your most important points. Too many colors can be overwhelming and distracting.
2. Illegible Fonts
Your audience needs to be able to read the text in your PowerPoint slides, so use typefaces and font sizes that are legible at the distance where your audience will need to read them from. A big room means you need to use big text so the people in the back can read it.
3. Too Much Text and Too Few Images
Take a tip from one of the best public speakers, Steve Jobs, and use more images and less text in your PowerPoint presentations. Break long blocks of text up into bulleted lists, and turn any fact or point that you can into a visual rather than text. No one wants to read your slides, and even fewer people want to listen to you read your slides to them.
4. Too Much Information
Your PowerPoint presentation annoys your audience when it has too many slides. Stay focused and follow the Steve Jobs Rule of Three — discuss three main points in your presentations and nothing more. Also, avoid putting too much on each slide. This could come in the form of text, images, animations, and more. In other words, too much of anything on a single slide is overwhelming and cluttered. Less is always more in PowerPoint presentation design.
5. Slides Load Too Slowly
No one wants to sit through a bunch of animations and audio introductions during a presentation. Skip the extraneous bells and whistles, and your presentation will be better. Instead, only use animations and audio when they enhance your point. Otherwise, they can be distracting to your audience. Furthermore, resize images and file sizes before you add them to your presentation to ensure the slides load on your screen quickly, and always check the equipment where you’ll be giving the presentation to ensure it can effectively display your presentation without any delays.
6. Typos and Mistakes
Don’t edit your own work. You’ll never catch all of the typos and mistakes. Instead, ask another person to review it. A fresh pair of eyes is far more likely to catch little errors that can irk an audience than you can.
This audience grievance is most common in PowerPoint presentations that were created by a group of people. Slides are merged together into a single presentation but colors, fonts, layout, and more don’t match. This type of inconsistency in design is extremely distracting to an audience and might annoy them so much that they’ll stop looking and listening.
8. Facts Without Substance
Don’t just regurgitate a list of facts, numbers, or points. Your audience will wonder why you didn’t just give them a handout to read at their leisure. Instead, spin those facts, numbers, and key points into stories and take your audience on a journey to discover what all of those boring facts and numbers mean to them.
9. It’s Been Done Before
Avoid using standard PowerPoint templates and designs in your presentations, because the members of your audience have likely seen them before — many times. Instead, take some time to create a unique design, layout, and color scheme that captures their interest from the title slide. You never want them to think they’ve seen your presentation (or a version of it) before.
10. Pretty Slides but No One Learned Anything
While it’s important to make your PowerPoint slides look great and unique, your presentation will do nothing more than annoy your audience if you’re not delivering anything but a pretty presentation. All the gorgeous graphics in the world can’t fix a presentation that offers no useful content. Window-dressing should enhance the presentation, not be the presentation.