PowerPoint presentations are still such an important part of meetings and the business world. Using presentations in your meetings is a great way to share information clearly, communicate data and make sure everyone involved is on the same page.
However, this is only when PowerPoints are created properly. There are many businesses and individuals that overlook aspects that are integral in creating good presentations that perform optimally.
Some of these mistakes can be catastrophic to the success of your meeting, whereas others can just be downright annoying to your audience, dramatically increasing the risk of boredom and miscommunication.
In order to minimize these risks, we’ve compiled twelve of the most common and most irritating PowerPoint presentation mistakes that you need to avoid to ensure that all of your meetings are successful.
It’s safe to say that we’ve all been in meetings and presentations where the host has said something along the lines of “I know we’d all rather be at home right now but this is a meeting that we need to have.”
This is quite possibly one of the worst things you can say because you’re already hinting that everybody is bored while implying that your presentation is also going to be boring, instantly losing you the attention of half the room.
If you can start your meeting and presentation in a motivating and engaging way, you’ll be able to hold your audience’s attention until the end.
This concept definitely takes the prize for being the most annoying PowerPoint presentation mistake. When you’re presenting, you must avoid standing in front of the screen/presentation because people just can’t see what’s going on.
If you’re using a projector and you have light blinding you, you’re standing in front of the screen. If you’re using a digital display, you’ll need to be even more aware of where you’re standing. Always stand to the side of your presentation so the audience can see both you and the presentation clearly.
Presentations themselves are supposed to be there to support what you’re saying, not be the main focus of the meeting. This means you should completely avoid reading the slides word for word.
Take notes on a bit of paper, on the back of your hand or even memorize what you’re going to say, but don’t read from the slides. This mistake makes you seem incredibly rigid, instead of dynamic and prepared.
If you can, try using bullet points on the slideshow and then elaborating on each point. Nobody wants to sit and simply be read a presentation; it’s far more engaging to have the human touch.
Here is a good explanation of how reading PowerPoint slides affects your presentation.
It’s important to realize that the text you have on the screen is there to accompany you, rather than be the main focus. As a rule of thumb, less is more when it comes to presenting.
Let’s say you were hosting a presentation on figures for your company’s last financial year. On the slides, you shouldn’t have reams of text explaining everything that’s happened. Instead, you should use simple graphs and bullet point key figures.
If needed, split large amounts of data over several slides, rather than trying to squeeze it all onto one.
This will help you convey your data far more effectively in a much clearer and less distracting way. Aim for a maximum of 50 words per slide, a word count you can track using tools like Easy Word Count.
One of the most annoying mistakes that people make on their presentations is not checking through their slides for errors.
These mistakes can include grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, typos and poor sentence structure.
Due to the minimal amount of text that should be on your slides, these mistakes will stick out and will instantly distract your audience.
Additionally, these mistakes will also harm your credibility and reputation as a professional, so it’s best avoided at all costs.
If you don’t trust your own proofreading skills, you can always use professional proofreading tools like Ox Essays to help you out. You can also brush up on your grammar skills using online resources like State of Writing and Grammarix.
For whatever reason, you may not be responsible for changing from slide to slide. However, be aware of the effect that this has on your audience, especially when you keep shouting out things like “Next Slide.”
Talk to the individual that will be advancing your slides and agree on physical, non-verbal cues for advancing the slides, rather than disrupting the flow of the meeting.
Also, you can practice and select the time you need to present each slide and advance them automatically using the method below.
All of the data that you show in your PowerPoint slides should be clear and easy to understand.
When it comes to graphs, don’t use make them overly complicated -, instead, use simple line or bar graphs. You can also use templates to show your data in great-styled charts and graphs.
Likewise, if you’re sharing quotes, references of citations in your content, be sure they are formatted professionally, and clearly, so your audience can easily read the information, absorb it and then return their attention to you as the main speaker.
You can simplify the process ofmanaging and formatting your citations using tools like Cite It In.
Sometimes, presenters want to show the audience a video halfway through the presentation and instead of adding it to the presentation, they leave the presentation and go somewhere else to show it. This is a huge distraction and create the risk of technical errors as well.
It doesn’t matter if the video is on a USB stick or on YouTube, PowerPoint gives you the ability to embed this content into your slideshow. Follow the method below embed your video.
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You’ve just finished a two-hour presentation, and your audience is getting restless. One of the worst things you can do at this point is to go through and summarize the entire presentation.
Instead, make sure that you summarize the main takeaway points of the presentation in a quick and concise way.
When it comes to the end of your meeting, just have a plain black or white screen rather than outsourcing the task of saying thank you to your audience.
You’re the main focus of the meeting, and it should be you saying "thank you," rather than the presentation. UK Writings and Carl Kwan has some great tips for producing high-quality slides, content, and how to end your presentation.
When it comes to the colors of your presentation, you may currently choose them because they look nice or fit your brand - but how well are these colors going to perform in practice?
Consider poor color mixes like white and yellow. This color combination is extremely difficult for your audience to read, causing a distraction in your meeting.
When choosing colors, look for clear mixes (like black and white) and remain consistent throughout your presentation, rather than switching the style and design.
You’re also going to want to pay attention to the fonts that you’re using. At all costs, you’ll want to avoid using handwriting-styled fonts since they will be difficult and distracting for all your audience members to read. Instead, try and choose a readable sans-serif font that will remain clear, no matter how far away the slideshow is.
However, with that in mind, you’ll also want to pay attention to the size of the font that you choose. You don’t want it so small that it’s unreadable, but you don’t want it too big that it draws attention away from you. Size 16pt is the recommended size, but this can vary based on the size of your projector and audience.
Check out the Presentation Design Service to get professional help with your presentation design.
One of the biggest distractions and most unprofessional features that people add to their PowerPoint presentations are the crazy transitions that come with the software. Just because they are there doesn’t mean that you have to use them.
“Most importantly, transitions simply distract your audience from the main purpose of the presentation but, in most cases, it can also come across as tacky and unprofessional and is, therefore, best avoided at all costs” shares Matthew Bowler, a presentation creator for Big Assignments.
Adding sounds to your presentations is simply distracting and will draw your audience’s attention away from you. All sounds are best avoided so keep your presentation quiet.
As you can see, there are many things you need to be aware of when creating your PowerPoint presentation and many mistakes that can be easily avoided. With crystal-clear and engaging presentations, you can proactively communicate in your meetings to the highest possible standard.