7 Ways to Give Your Next Presentation Oomph

This post was originally published on the TechSoup blog. Whether you're using a slide deck for a computer class or adding some pizzazz to storytime, these tips on giving presentations will help you hold your audience's attention and help you feel better prepared.

Hey. Did you know that audiences forget 90 percent of what's presented to them? Well, of course you did! You've sat through your fair share of screamingly dull presentations where you felt proud that you remembered even 1.7 percent of what was presented (well, at least the parts you were awake for).

Good job, you! … Only, this time YOU'RE the one presenting!

So — given your teeny amount of available time and your equally tiny budget — here are seven easy-to-implement recommendations that will help your audience retain that 10 percent and keep them from sleeping while you speak:

1. Include Only One Key Point per Slide

Yup, one. Here's why: Slides with too much verbiage will decrease the interest of your audience.

List ye ol' bullet points on separate slides like Damon Nofar does here:

Damon Nofar's slide showing how to break up information on multiple slides

2. Pay Attention to the 3-Second Rule!

… This one's not about food dropped on the ground and whether it's still edible. THIS is the 3-second rule that applies to how long it takes the audience to process your message.

According to graphic designer and knower-of-all-things-presentation-related Nancy Duarte, you should look at your slides and determine: "Will the audience understand what I'm trying to communicate in 3 seconds?"

No? Then whittle it down.

3. Have a Bold Opening Slide to Get the Audience's Interest Early

Check out these examples of great presentations.

This next one should be obvious, but:

4. Pick an Easy-to-Read Font

This means nothing smaller than 24 pt.

When in doubt (if you're not a font aficionado), Arial and other simple fonts are solid choices.

5. Create a Coherent Look and Feel

Every slide should feel like it's part of the same story (no one wants a left-out slide!).

To do this, you'll want to use the same or related fonts, colors, and imagery across all your slides.

Here's one of my absolute favorite-of-all-time slideshows that does this effectively: it's called You Suck at PowerPoint.

intro slide for presentation on You Suck at PowerPoint

6. Slides with Data in Them Should Focus on the Meaning of the Data, not Just the Data

This means:

  • Cluttered data slides are not useful
  • Show only data that helps illustrate your point
  • Display it in a way so that everyone can absorb it

Here's a prime example from presentation rockstar Garr Reynolds of how simplifying the dataset you want to share can be visually effective:

before and after example of how to create a better bar chart by Garr Reynolds

7. Use Images to Visualize and Explain

Images make content 55 percent more memorable than words (or so says the author of this presentation). Well-utilized images can enhance and reinforce your messages like they do in this example.

Importantly, do not use images just to decorate. This is distracting.

Need More Ideas to Up Your Oomph?

Find Quality, Free Photos for Your Next Presentation Here:

Get More Inspiration Here:

Image 1: Damon Nofar

Image 2: Jesse Desjardins

Image 3: Garr Reynolds