PowerPoint can be a powerful presentation tool for webinars, if used effectively. It rarely is. PowerPoint has one function, to communicate with your audience.
Rather than communicating, PowerPoint is often used to accomplish 3 things, none of which leads to a good presentation:
1. Most people use it as a TelePrompter. Did your audience really set aside part of their valuable time to watch you listen to you read? Why not send them an email instead?
2. To provide a written “cover your ass” version of what was presented. It saves having to write a formal report of what happened in the meeting. In the future you can point to this as implicit approval of your ideas at a future date. Never works.
3. Focus on ensuring that the audience remembers everything you said. Lets get EVERYTHING up there. Why not go one step further and provide a complete transcript of everything you said. That’s not communication, it’s indoctrination. Why not send a concise memo instead?
A good presentation is about the successful conveying of emotion about your concept or idea. Having good reference martial to back it up is good too, but don’t use PowerPoint for that.
The four components of a great presentation
1. Make yourself cue cards. It stops you putting the information on the slides. PowerPoint notes help if you can set it up right.
2. Make slides that reinforce your words, delivering emotional impact. If you want emotion, show a picture that evokes emotion. A photo of a swimming polar bear conveys the point as much as a chart.
3. Create a written document. This will act as the proof and reference material to give away afterward. This will take the burden off your audience and yourself of having a dense presentation. If your idea is important, it’s important enough to document.
4. Create a feedback cycle. Have them fill in a simple form, make a comment or sign something. It gives them something concrete to agree to.
For the presentation itself, here’s some rules that will make a big difference:
1. No more than 6 words per slide
2. No cheesy images. Use professional photos or stock photography.
3. No lengthy dissolves, spins or weird transitions.
4. Don’t use the standard sound effects. We’ve heard all of those before too. It can be effective to use music, video or sound to engage your audience, but ensure it is original and fits I with your presentation.
5. Don’t hand out printouts or email of your slides. They don’t work without you. Send a video (screen cam) instead or write a summary with links to supplementary material.
These tips work for most presentations styles as well as webinars. For webinars, you MUST learn how to use the basic features of your presentation software well. Your message will be impaired if your presentation has a prelude of meeting software bumbling or projector fiddling.
For webinars, you may find it helpful to present to a physical audience, with a projector, standing up if you can. Your audience will hear the difference.
In webinars, as well as conventional presentations, PowerPoint can be an effective and compelling way of presenting ideas. It’s reputation has been tarnished by misuse. Suprise your audience by dazzling them with PowerPoint. Try it.