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4 PowerPoint Do's & Don'ts in Public Speaking

Learn four important PowerPoint presentation do's and don'ts from media coach TJ Walker in this Howcast public speaking training video.


So how do you give a great PowerPoint presentation?

PowerPoint is a great tool. It's great for audiences. It's great for speakers. Except for when it's abused and misused. And you know the result. The result is you fall asleep. Everyone falls asleep. PowerPoint is a very misused tool, but it doesn't mean PowerPoint is bad. PowerPoint can be extraordinarily effective for you if you follow a few simple rules.

For starters, you need to narrow the focus of your speech to a handful of key points. What you can't do is just gather up every single fact, every single number that your department has worked on for the last year, and cram it all into a bunch of PowerPoint slides and quickly read it to people. If you're just using it as a data dump you're going to put everybody to sleep.

The most effective way to use a PowerPoint slide is to focus on a few simple rules. For starters, one idea per slide. Now, let me say that again. Literally one idea per slide. So, what does that mean? That means if you have a heading and six bullet points that's six ideas. That's not one idea. So, the basic concept is one idea per slide.

Use images rather than text. Now, hey, I'm a text guy. I've written eight books. I like to read books. I'm not anti-text. But think about it. Your whole life when you like to read text, do you really like to read a screen fifty feet away while someone's talking to you and turning the pages? Of course not. When you like to read you hold a book, or an iPad, or a computer screen this far away. You want quiet. And you want to turn your own pages. So it is simply not effective to use a PowerPoint as a way of throwing up a lot of text.

The best way to use a PowerPoint is to supplement your messages with images to drive your messages to the audience so they remember it. Remember, you're not really giving a PowerPoint presentation. I don't give PowerPoint presentations. I use PowerPoint, but I'm giving a T.J. presentation. You're giving a Samantha presentation. You have to make your ideas come alive. You have to give examples with stories. Then, if you have a visual to make that idea come alive, to make it more memorable, put the visual up. That can help you dramatically.

When you're speaking you shouldn't have a PowerPoint slide up. If there's a PowerPoint slide up close your mouth and let people look at it.

Finally, the biggest tip of all, realize you can have two separate PowerPoints. You can have the traditional PowerPoint with lots and lots of bullet points, lots of text. E-mail that to people in advance. Give it as a handout. But the PowerPoint you actually project on a big screen in front of people should be stipped away of words and should focus on one image per screen, one idea per screen. If you do that you will give a great PowerPoint presentation.

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