Here are some tips for those of you speaking at a conference where you will be using PowerPoint (or Mac Keynote or equivalent) presentations. Following these tips will ensure your presentation is as effective as possible at getting your message across to your audience.
Powerpoint is an amazing tool for presenting your visuals, graphs and core points.
Firstly, when designing your powerpoint make sure you use always use contrasting colours with your text against the background. Because your presentation will most likely be through a projector they need contrasting colours to show up well.
Black and white is perfect but not always attractive, black text on yellow or pastel backgrounds work well. Yellow text against a green background might look good on your computer screen but your screen is able to achieve a much higher contrast than a projector. This is due to the fact that projectors rely on a dark room to show black and dark colours, if people are taking notes in the audience then the room needs to have some lights on, it’s a catch 22.
Use large fonts and don’t try to pack too much information onto one slide, remember you have unlimited slides so it’s better to have information span over two or three slides than try to cram it into one unreadable slide due to smaller fonts.
When adding media to your presentation (audio and video) make sure the file that you’re linking to is in the same folder as your presentation and if you’re bringing the presentation on a USB memory stick don’t forget the media file!
Quite often we have presenters turn up with a presentation that is linked to a video or audio that is located on their work server. Of course because we are operating from a hotel or convention centre we have no access to their server and the powerpoint can’t play the media for their presentation.
This also applies to internet links. If you have linked to a YouTube video or website ensure that there is internet access on the presenting laptop or computer where you are speaking.
By default PowerPoint creates new presentations as 4:3 aspect ratio. This corresponds to squarer screens (like older television sets). A lot of conference utilise wide screens now which are 16:9 aspect ratio. Check screens are being supplied with your conference organiser to see which ratio is best.
To change the ratio of your presentation you need to go to page setup (in the newer versions this is under the ‘design’ tab). Change the size to On Screen Show (4:3) or On Screen Show (16:9). Note that this is far easier to do before you build your powerpoint than apply it later on as powerpoint does tend to stretch and distort slides if changed later.
As a rule 16:9 is the safest ratio. On 16:9 screens it will show full screen and on 4:3 screens it will have a black bar top and bottom which people are used to seeing when watching some DVDs or programs at home.
Until next time…