Communicating for results: PowerPoint presentation revisited
A PowerPoint presentation uses both non-verbal and verbal cues. The PowerPoint provides MSMEs the structure and verbal presentation an opportunity to share your thought process that has gone into the information, data, document or thesis.
In the process of 'getting desired results', MSMEs often have to examine the communication function in depth. The main purpose of communication is to share thoughts, ideas, data, information with the audience (comprising of one, a few or many) to achieve certain objectives. That is why communication plays the most important role-at work and in personal lives-in building teams for production, sales, at home and in society.
In a communication, we have two sets of cues: verbal and non-verbal. A PowerPoint presentation uses both non-verbal and verbal cues. The PowerPoint provides MSMEs the structure and verbal presentation an opportunity to share your thought process that has gone into the information, data, document or thesis. Here you emphasize a point, explain a nuance or indicate relative importance of another. To that extent a PowerPoint presented via internet (Skype) would not be so impactful.
To make a PowerPoint effective, the design of the PowerPoint has to follow the principles of communication. Broadly these principles are:
1. The most effective communication takes place when the presenter is looking into the eyes of the audience and vice versa. Talking to the audience makes it a conversational style-the most effective way of public speaking.
2. The audience stops listening to you if you start reading from a slide, your back towards them.
3. Similarly, if eye contact is missing, the communication is hindered the moment the audience starts reading a slide or looks at an exciting picture or graphics.
4. The communication would also be weakened, if the audience is distracted in situations such as these:
Loud dress worn by the presenter.
Heavy and dramatic gesturing.
Heavy pitch or high fluctuation in voice levels.
Looking at only one section or side of the audience more than 10 seconds at a time.
Too many thoughts, sentences, ideas on one slide.
Too many colours, fonts or font sizes used in a slide.
More than one picture, design, graphic or artwork on one slide.
Use of videos unless they are short (not more than a minute) and used for a specific purpose.
Keeping this in mind, the following tips would be useful in preparing an effective PowerPoint:
The main advantage of a PowerPoint over a document is sharing the information in a brief, structured and precise manner.
To keep a slide clutter-free, have only four-five lines and not more than one picture, design or graphic. Best would be one thought-one slide.
Use not more than two colour fonts on white background in the entire presentation; white fonts on dark backgrounds may appear beautiful, but are highly distracting.
Recommended font sizes for headers are 36-40 and for the text 22-24.
Use simple language; use of a word that makes the audience scramble for the dictionary in their mobiles is a big no-no.
The best way to engage the audience and make a lasting impression is, however, to tell your 'story', without any aid of a PowerPoint. Your objectives will be best achieved if a presentation is totally verbal; the PowerPoint is but a distraction in your direct communication with the audience. Stories-being personal and informal-inform, illuminate, and inspire the audience and stay with them longer. Directly connecting the presenter to the audience, the stories are more persuasive and 'listened to' more effectively.
Having designed a powerful PowerPoint or written a story you wish to share with your audience, the whole purpose would be lost if you have not practiced it well:
Practice, practice and practice till you have internalised the storyline. Practice in front of a mirror, with an audience (even of one).
Remember, the takeaway for the audience are your thoughts and these will be best conveyed when you practice them well and present them with clarity.
( Ram Kumarr Seshu is the Author & Managing Director and Anand Chhabra Director of Born To Win Learning Service Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore. For more information visit www.borntowin.co.in. Anand, based out of Delhi, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)