As a researcher, part of your expected role is to share your work in order to get more recognition outside of your immediate circle of colleagues. This provides your research with greater visibility and helps you improve your career possibilities. Sharing your work can be done through presentations with a wide audience, but for this to be impactful, you must be engaging.
Most researchers use PowerPoints during their presentations. This is a simple, but usually effective, format that is easy to put together and conveys your message quickly. However, if you don’t optimize it and the way you present it, it can have the opposite effect, labeling you as ineffective, uninteresting, or irrelevant. To optimize your PowerPoint, you must focus on improving both the content and the way you present it to keep your audience’s attention and engage them.
An Overview of PowerPoint
Microsoft PowerPoint is a software that has been used to present information in an engaging format for years. Users can create slides, which act as an individual page, and showcase text, graphics, and hyperlinks. Over the years, this software has upgraded to include the ability to showcase movies, sound, animation, and other effects.
The presentations can be automated or moved on demand, printed, shown on display boards, and interactive. PowerPoint has become so popular that many institutions, libraries, and online forums offer workshops and instructions to help users learn how to develop presentations that range from rudimentary to impressive.
Although today’s technology offers other presentation options, such as Prezi, PowerPoint typically becomes the go-to fallback for industries and presenters around the world. This is often because PowerPoint offers simple, easy to structure files. It’s programming capabilities are simple, whereas those like Prezi require more familiarity and comfort with learning new formats and styles.
Optimizing Your PowerPoint Presentation
When you design your presentation, there are a few ways you can put it together to take it from bland to impactful. Try these tips to optimize your PowerPoint:
● Take advantage of the master feature so that your style is consistent throughout the entire presentation.
● Keep all the elements consistent, including the font and sizes.
● Limit the text you use per screen and use keywords and phrases that convey your point concisely.
● Include empty space on each slide to give the eyes a chance to rest.
● Don’t use any letters in all capitals unless it’s an acronym.
● Use professional colors and backgrounds, but keep them complementary and easy to read. Dark backgrounds with light font are simple and easiest to view.
● While you want to grab the audience’s attention, avoid unprofessional animations. Keep the features you use simple. When you use too much animation, it can take away from the point you’re trying to make and impact your scholarly image detrimentally.
● When you use images, make sure they are of high quality and are relevant. Don’t just use images to have something on the page. Check and make sure that the image showcases on the large screen without being pixelated.
● Keep your presentation short with limited slides. A good targeted number is one slide per minute of your presentation.
You may be tempted to use flashy animation, movie slides, and other eye candy in your presentation, but it’s best to stay professional.
It All Starts and Ends With You
A monotone speaker who displays no passion about their content and is obviously reading from the slide will lose their audience, regardless of what they are saying. To ensure you are dynamic and engaging, practice these tips before every presentation:
● Preview your slides in the atmosphere where they will be viewed to ensure that they are visible from all seats.
● Practice your presentation ahead of time. Attempt to get someone to watch you and critique your content, the display of the PowerPoint, and your actions.
● Learn what each slide says, but don’t read from them. Have your own speech ready that builds from the slides and expands the content in interesting ways.
● Always face the audience, but don’t stand still. Get active and interact.
● Consider technological difficulties that could arise. Don’t rely on an internet connection to pull your Powerpoint from. Use a jump drive or something you have control of.
● Check your printouts to make sure they can stand alone as an informative source of your work. If you end up with technical problems, the printouts may be the only thing you have to put on your presentation.
Ultimately, it’s all about you and how comfortable you are with your material and standing in front of your audience.