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6 Steps to Better Presentations


Highlights | Quick tips to improve your presentations

  • Take your presentations from bland to on-brand with UW Medicine templates and visuals.
  • Spice up your slides with storytelling and a conversational approach to your content.
  • Don’t let animations or typos distract your audience.

 

We’ve all been in that meeting — the one with dozens of presentation slides with text so small it makes your eyes hurt and the speaker reads every single line, word for word.

Though PowerPoint slides have gotten a bad rap, your presentations don’t have to put your audience to sleep. Strategic Marketing and Communications team members Julie Elting Wessel, senior graphic designer, and Mark Kim, designer, share six simple tips to help you create eye-catching presentations to keep your audience engaged and awake.

1. Take advantage of our templates

An easy way to lend a more professional look to your business presentation is to use the official UW Medicine PowerPoint presentation template, available on the Brand Resources site.

“Our brand is highly respected for clinical care, teaching and research,” says Elting Wessel. “By having our brand associated with your materials, you’re putting the weight of our reputation behind your content. That’s a great reason to use the templates.”

The templates include everything you need to build an on-brand presentation. There is a standard brand template and a clinical template. Both have built-in options to create an appealing and official UW Medicine presentation, including:

  • UW Medicine logo
  • Color palette
  • Fonts
  • Layouts for slides with text, bullets and images
  • Options for banner, highlight and graph slides

“With so much of the design work done for you, all you have to worry about is your content,” says Kim.

2. Treat your slides like a billboard

Just like a billboard on the side of the road, less is more when it comes to your presentation slides. If your audience is too busy reading what’s on-screen, chances are they aren’t listening to what you’re saying.

“Keep it simple and limit your word count,” says Kim. “Share one story per slide and use more images with less text.”

Additional billboard-style presentation tips include:

  • Keep your font size large enough to be seen from a distance, even for a virtual meeting.
  • Stick with one overarching story per slide.
  • Use bullets or short sentences and try to keep points to one line each.

If you have detailed charts and graphs to share, consider sending your slides before the meeting. Elting Wessel also recommends handouts or appendix slides for sharing supplemental information.

3. Add compelling visuals

“PowerPoint presentations can be pretty dry,” says Elting Wessel. “The presentations that make an impression are the ones that use strong, impactful visuals and break up the monotony of reading off a bunch of bullets.”

Visuals, such as photography, icons or PowerPoint SmartArt, can help convey the story you’re trying to tell. Within the Brand Resources site, you’ll also find guidelines for how to use our brand photography and how to give proper credit to the photographer.

4. Limit your special effects

Animations can be a helpful way to add emphasis or transitions to your slides, but don’t let them detract from your message, says Elting Wessel.

“When using animation, make sure your content stays on screen long enough and don’t let it disappear in case people want to read it. Don’t add animation that’s too much of a distraction — you want your audience to pay attention to you and what you’re saying, not the animations,” she says.

5. Keep it conversational

If you reflect on great presentations you’ve heard in the past, chances are the speaker used a conversational approach to make you feel included. You can recreate that feeling by pausing to ask for feedback, take questions or even take a poll.

Using a storytelling approach is another effective way to engage your audience and reduce the number of words and slides in your deck.

“Your slides should complement your story while keeping the attention on you,” says Elting Wessel.

6. Practice makes perfect

The more comfortable you are with your presentation, the better you’ll deliver it. Review your slides and rehearse your presentation, activating any animations or transitions, before getting in front of your audience. And make sure to proofread any text — typos can be distracting.

“You’ve worked hard on your presentation and want to present in your best light,” says Elting Wessel. “Have a co-worker review your slides or listen to you present.”

There’s even a free feature within PowerPoint called “Rehearse with Coach” that gives you private feedback on your tone, pace, pitch and more so you can become a more confident presenter.

Next slide, please

With these six tips, you can create slides your audience won’t snooze through. As you set out to build your next slideshow, visit the Brand Resources website for additional resources and templates.

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