4 Elements of a Powerful Presentation

Last Updated Mar 10, 2010 11:53 AM EST

What makes a presentation great? It helps if you're a strong, confident speaker, but the slides you use go a long way towards delivering your point in a compelling way.

Here are four elements you should consider building into any visuals you bring into the conference room or auditorium.


Of course, no presentation has to include PowerPoint slides. You might choose to go solo, or use an alternative solution like the breathtaking, elegant Prezi. But Productivity 501 recently summarized four elements of a powerful presentation. Here are the highlights:

Focus the audience's attention. Your visuals should focus attention on what you're saying, not distract from it. Consider clean, minimalist slides with little clutter and simple backgrounds. Don't distract with animations, busy headers and footers, and other visual debris.

Be terse. Likewise, the fewer the words, the better. Use bullets, not paragraphs, and let the text compliment and summarize your points. Let the slides emphasize your main points -- they don't have to reiterate everything you're saying.

Use images smartly. A picture is worth a thousand words, so you can sometimes use an image to replace a slide full of text.

Anchor the audience in your presentation. If people don't know where you are and how much time is left, they can get frustrated and distracted. Keep the audience informed about where you are in the presentation. You can do that by showing an outline of your presentation up front, and then keeping everyone informed about where you are as you progress.

Of course, Rick suggests killing PowerPoint entirely.

I wouldn't go that far, but instead offer four tips for a killer PowerPoint presentation. And while you're honing your presentation, check out some ways to improve your speaking and presentation skills.

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