I’ve had the pleasure of producing a number of events while also being the primary audiovisual operator. I’ve seen some powerful presentations and I’ve seen some that were less than engaging. I wrote this article to give several tips to help ensure that your presentation, as you’ve created it, is what will be displayed on screen for your audience and that it will draw them in and compel them to act. With all that said, here are four things you need to know in order to create a powerful presentation for your next speaking engagement. They may seem a bit trivial, but they can make a huge difference in the audience experience.
Please choose to use a common font that’s easy to read. While there are many great fonts out there that evoke certain feelings and emotion, there’s a good chance choosing one that’s not very common will lead to problems with your layout when loading your presentation onto a different computer for an event.
Choosing a common font will help ensure your presentation looks the same (size, spacing, line breaks, etc.) on our presentation computer as it looks on your computer. When an uncommon font is used for your presentation, and the computer from which your presentation will be made doesn’t include that font, a substitute font will be used. This often leads to it altering the layout of text on your slides, which can alter the entire slide layout.
Easy to Read
Choosing a font that’s easy to read means that your audience will be able to easily read the text on your slides from the front of the room, or the back of the room. Traditionally, serif fonts (think Times New Roman, Garamond, Bookman, anything with the little chunks, swirls, or other elements at the tips/edges of the letters) are designed for and better suited to printed material. Sans serif fonts (think Helvetica, Tahoma, Verdana, Arial) on the other hand, are usually much easier to read on screens.
These are commonly available, sans serif, and easy to read on screen.
- Arial Black
- Century Gothic
- Helvetica Neue
- Lucida Console
Use one font throughout your presentation. Make titles and headers larger (40-60 point) and bold, and body text and bullet points smaller (22-32 point). Use italics to accentuate text in a bullet point or body text. Also, pay attention to contrast. A dark colored font on a dark background or dark image will be hard for your audience to read. Likewise, a light colored font on a light background will also be hard for your audience to read.
A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Choose your images carefully and make sure they support the main idea of the slide on which you’re placing them. And bigger is definitely better. Try to use images that are at least 1280 x 720 pixels. You can always scale a large image down to fit, but it’s when you try to scale a small image up that you get grainy, pixelated (or blocky) artifacts in your image. Remember, you want the back row to see and feel the emotion in the images you’re using, so make sure they’re filling the slide, or at least filling most of the slide. If you’re looking for FREE or low cost quality images, check out these sites:
- Death to the Stock Photo
- Canva – This is more than FREE and low-cost images. It is an online design tool that anyone can use to create beautiful graphics and images. Their paid images are only $1 per use/download.
3. LESS IS MORE; SIMPLE IS BETTER
Each slide is meant to be a visual that supports your message. Sometimes, people want to put every last bit of text that they want to communicate about a topic or idea on a single slide. Resist this urge. You’ll clutter your slide, you’ll likely fall into the pattern of reading what’s on your slide, rather than speaking from your heart, which holds your story, your experience, your wisdom. It’s IN YOU. You don’t need the slide to share your story. It’s just there, reinforcing what you already know and believe.
Now that you’ve selected the right font and the right image, it’s time to lay it all out on your slide(s). Make sure you allow for space between titles/headlines and any body text or bullets. This helps your audience quickly recognize the big picture and the supporting details. Also, think about putting the most important information in the top third of your slide(s). This will help reduce the possibility of an audience member not being able to see important elements of your presentation due to the head of the person in front of them blocking the bottom part of the screen.
After mastering your message, focusing on these four things will help to make your presentation memorable.
- Choose a common, easy-to-read font.
- Choose a large image that reinforces your message.
- Keep your slides simple.
- Put your most important information in the top third of your slide.
I hope this information helps you create compelling presentations. If you have any questions, comments, or your own tips feel free to engage in the comment section below.