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How to optimize your powerpoint presentations

A. Introduction

PowerPoint is a powerful communication tool with multiple functions to highlight and support your presentations.

You can create presentations for a broad audience:
- For readers only (display on a computer screen)
- For a small group of people at a meeting or
- Projected to a wide audience in large venues.

Each presentation consists of one or more pages. Each page can contain multiple text boxes, AutoShapes, checks and pictures. Objects and slides have options animation and transition. These can be triggered by timer or after an event (eg clicking on the object ...).

PowerPoint offers the ability to easily interact with other Office applications (for example, you can create links to tables and Excel charts).

The main purpose of a presentation is to provide information to readers and participants to a meeting, or the importance of visual aids you will use.

B. Enhance your presentations

a. Message effectiveness

Firstly, before you start creating your presentation, define precisely the information you want to display.

The presentation must captivate the audience and promote understanding of the subject.

The construction of the statement must answer several questions :
* What is the message ?
* Am I clear ?
* Am I attractive ?
* Is the purpose appropriate for the audience ?
* Is The message understandable ?
* Is The presentation structured ?

Bring up only the essential and non-recurring items in the presentation.

Avoid simply reading text or duplicate by word images displayed on the screen. This will quickly bore the audience.
The slideshow is above all a visual complement to your comments.

If questions are likely to be asked during the presentation, you can give the information verbally and then proceed to more detailed explanations.
You can attach annexes which will be given to participants at the end of a meeting.

Limit the duration of your presentation to 30 minutes maximum. Beyond that, you lose the attention of the audience.
A progressive loss of concentration usually occurs after 20 minutes. Think about it when you prepare the organization and the main lines of your project.
A simplified and streamlined presentation reduce the risk of inattention.

Observe if possible a minimum of 3 minutes between each slide.

Add a conclusion on the last page, that will remind your main message.
Do not close immediately your PowerPoint presentation, keep the last slide opened during the discussions that can commit to following the presentation.

Do not hesitate to read your projects by others so they can check the clarity of the message.

b. The visual aspect

A well presented work improves understanding and retention of information.

Include diagrams and illustrations related to your subject. If necessary, trim, change the brightness, contrast and image transparency.

Organize the visual space of the page so that the overall appearance remains consistent between the different components (titles, logos, pictures, graphics, images, colors, texts and different hierarchical levels).

Observe the graphic of your model.

Stay sober and play on shades of symbols, colors, font size ...

c. The structure

Specify only the main title on the first page. A summary page is recommended following early presentation.
Make sure the balance and rhythm slides are correct.
Structure your project to present an idea per slide and associate it an image or visual symbol.

Use 8 lines of text per slide on average (including title).

Respect a maximum of 50 words per slide. Your presentation will gain in readability.

d. The syntax

Bring attention to grammar and terminology used.
Avoid using language expressions speak.
Prefer the infinitive.
Use simple and explicit words, always expressing a positive orientation.
Avoid words in uppercase and underscores.
Write titles that guide the audience interest. The main title should be short, fit on one line and allow immediate understanding of the subject.
Avoid punctuation in the title.
Use a sub-title page , summarizing the contents of the slide on a single line.
For text boxes, prefer short sentences 6 to 10 words maximum. Space texts in order to improve efficiency and avoid line breaks .
Remember that the graphic language (the representation of a summary table , graphics, illustrations or diagrams) will often be more effective than text: a picture speaks more than a thousand words.

e. Styles

Set up a typographical protocol that contributes to the readability of your project.

Use a single font whose letters are legible parts and in all configurations.
The font size should be used to distinguish levels of hierarchy (titles, subtitles and texts).

Choose a font size approximately:
* 38 points for titles,
* 32 points for subtitles,
* 24 points for body text.

Avoid font sizes that are too small, especially if the presentation is meant to be projected in a large room.

Place bullets in front of the line to better visualize the various key elements. Choose a specific type of bullet for each hierarchical level.

Color is an important element for the identification and development of information.
Use maximum 3 colors per page.
Opt for dark colors to identify high hierarchical levels, and then use gradients lighter color (staying in the same tone) to go down to the lower levels of information.

Do not overload pages with dates and copyright. Place this information in the file properties (Menu File / Properties).
Avoid oversized logos that would undermine the effectiveness of the message. Place it preferably in a corner of the page.

f. Animations and motions

Add visual effects and sound to give rhythm to your speech.
In a process of brevity, limit yourself to one animation effect on each page. The appearance of a complete sentence is more effective than display letter by letter.

In a presentation, limit yourself to one type of transition between slides.

g. Distribute your presentation

Presentations can be distributed via electronic mails and downloaded from the web or various intranet messaging.
Apply appropriate safeguards to your files if necessary. Digital signatures help to ensure that no changes be made to your work without your permission.

Before distributing your presentation, make sure that it no longer contains personal or confidential data: comments, hidden text, the credentials that allow you to write or edit documents in groups (in case of collaborative work).

To delete confidential data, use the Document Inspector in Excel 2007 or the Remove Metadata Tool in Office 2003/XP.