When used effectively, PowerPoint can add tremendously to your presentation. Here are 10 tips from presentation expert Dave Paradi of Think Outside the Slide to help you move from technical proficiency to using PowerPoint effectively to communicate your message.

We’ve worked with Dave for a number of years; designing two covers for his excellent presentation books, and providing PowerPoint design for clients he’s referred to us. Dave offers a wealth of information on his blog and website that any presenter or organization can benefit from, and I encourage you to visit his site: www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com.

A short bio from his website is at the end of this newsletter; consider contacting Dave for all of your PowerPoint and presentation educational needs.

The article below is from his fantastic blog, and has been shortened significantly.

View the original – complete with many additional links – here.

Ten Secrets for Using PowerPoint Effectively

Start by creating an outline
The most important part of any presentation is the content. Create a structure for your presentation by reflecting on the goal of the presentation, what your audience is thinking now, and what points you need to make in order to move the audience from where they are to where you want them to be. By creating an outline first, you ensure that the content of your presentation is solid before you concern yourself with the visual elements.

Use contrasting colors
If you want your audience to be able to see what you have on the slide, you need contrast between the text and the background. Don’t think that because the text looks fine on your computer screen, it will look fine when projected. Most projectors make colors duller than they appear on a screen. Check how colors look when projected to make sure there is enough contrast.  To check that your colors have enough contrast, use this Color Contrast Calculator.

Use a large enough font
Make sure your fonts are large enough so that your audience can see them.  In general, fonts less than 24 point are too small to be reasonably read in most presentation situations.  Text is best at 28 or 32 point, and titles at 36 to 44 point. Here is a chart that lists how far away the last row of your audience should be based on the size of screen, font size and visual acuity testing – use this Font Size chart.

Stop the moving text
When text comes on the screen, we want the audience to read the text, then focus back on the presenter to hear the message. If the text moves onto the screen in any way, it makes it harder for audience to read, as they have to wait until the text stops before they can read it, causing your audience to focus more on the movement than on what is being said. This article explains how proper use of builds helps focus the audience.

Turn the pointer off
During a presentation, it is annoying to have the pointer arrow come on the screen while the presenter is speaking.

The movement diverts audience attention from the presenter to the screen. The pointer comes on when the mouse is moved during the presentation. To prevent this from happening, after the Slide Show view has started, press the Ctrl-H key combination. If you need to bring the pointer on screen, press the A key. If the pointer does appear during your presentation, resist the urge to press the Escape key – if you do, it will stop the presentation and drop you back into the program.

Use visuals
Surveys confirm that audiences are fed up with text overload on slides. To overcome this, use visuals such as graphs, diagrams, photos and media clips to engage the audience.If you do use a text slide, don’t use the default bullet point layout. You have better options. Check out the e-course Alternatives to Bullet point text.

Have Slides at the End of Your Presentation
The last slide you speak to should not be the last slide in your presentation file. You should have three identical copies of your last speaking slide with no transition, so that if you accidentally advance too many times at the end of your presentation, your audience never knows because the slide looks like it has not changed. After these slides, include some slides that answer questions you expect to be asked. These slides will be useful during Q&A sessions after the presentation. The final slide should be blank so that if you go through all the other slides, you have a backup from dropping into the program.

Jump to Any Slide
PowerPoint has a feature that allows you to move quickly and seamlessly to any slide in your presentation. To do so, you need to know the slide numbers. The easiest way to print a list of the slide numbers and associated slide titles is to go to the Outline View and collapse the details for each slide (there is a button on the left side of the screen in this view that will do this). Then print the view. To jump to any slide, just enter the slide number on the keyboard and press the Enter key. This will move you directly to that slide. This technique is very useful for moving to a prepared Q&A slide or for skipping parts of your presentation if time becomes an issue.

Blank the screen
Sometimes we want the image on the screen to disappear so that the audience is focused solely on the presenter. One way to do this is to blank the screen with a black image, similar to shutting the projector off. Just press the period key (.) on the keyboard and the image is replaced with a black image. Press the period key again and the image is restored.

Draw on the screen during a presentation
Sometimes it can be valuable to be able to draw on the screen during your presentation to illustrate a particular point or item. To do this, press the Ctrl-P key combination to display a pen on the screen. Using the left mouse button, draw on the slide as you wish. To erase what you have drawn, press the E key. To hide the pen, press the A key or the Ctrl-H key combination.

By using PowerPoint more effectively, you will enhance your audience’s understanding of your message and ensure that your presentation is a success.

Dave Paradi has been recognized by the media and his clients as a presentation expert. He has authored eight books and four Kindle e-books on effective PowerPoint presentations. He consults on high-stakes presentations including one used by the CEO of an investment management firm to retain over $800 million in assets. Dave is one of only fifteen people in North America to be recognized by Microsoft with the PowerPoint Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the PowerPoint presentation community. His ideas have appeared in publications around the world. Participants in his workshops leave with practical steps they can take immediately to improve their presentations. Attendees say that they will never be able to look at another PowerPoint presentation the same way again because Dave redefined what an effective presentation should look like.