Tip&Tech/Etc_Tip2007.01.07 16:15

Many business people today are expected to create their own presentations. If you are one of those people, this article will help you make effective, professional-looking screens. Take this checklist and make sure your screens meet these guidelines.


1. Use readable, consistent typeface.

Use sans serif fonts (Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica) for the text on your slide. You can use serif fonts (Times New Roman, Courier) for the titles. What’s the difference? This sentence is in Times New Roman and you can see all the curly cues on each letter. This sentence is in Arial and you can see the letters are clearer.


2. Limit the text to a few phrases on a screen.

A good rule of thumb is six lines down and six words across. Certainly you may have a couple slides of eight lines but don’t make those screens the standard.


3. Write phrases, not sentences.

If you put sentences on your screens, you have nothing to add. Use the phrases as cues to remind you about the additional comments you will add. If you just read the words on your slides and don’t add anything, you won’t come across as an effective presenter.


4. Put one heading on each screen.

As soon as you and your audience see the screen the heading should make it clear as to the point of that screen. Put the company logo, department, product name etc. on the bottom of the slide or on the left-hand side of the screen.


5. Vary the look of the screens.

Mix up the pie charts with the bulleted phrases charts with the photos. Lay out a hard copy of your screens and make sure there’s a variety of looks throughout the presentation.


6. Use parallel structure on each screen.

Have every bullet begin with a verb. Or have every phrase begin with a noun. This structure the flow of your talk go smoother as you link from point to point.


7. Keep the background simple.

You want a background that shows off your information. Customize your background in some manner so it doesn’t look like it came straight off a template from one of the software programs. If you have a photo-type background you may wish to not use it when showing charts and numbers. At least be sure the numbers are readable against the background.


8. Use color with care.

Choose colors for your screen that convey the appropriate message. Using red in a financial presentation to impress upon the audience your stability and prosperousness doesn’t work. Red has the image of danger. Most business presentations are limited in the color combinations.

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