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Capital What Works, , , — October 5, 2010 6:20 — 95 Comments

Delivering the Perfect Powerpoint

“When Cicero spoke, men marveled. When Caesar spoke, men marched.” -Anonymous

Inspiring people to action through oration is among the most important skills to hone as a social entrepreneur. And while not always required or even optimal, putting together a highly-compelling powerpoint to go along with your scintillating talk will help you drive the point home. One of the best examples of a powerpoint presentation that I’ve seen comes courtesy of Sparkseed Founder Mike Del Ponte.  Conveniently, his powerpoint presentation is on how to deliver the perfect powerpoint. So I invited him to the Unreasonable Blog to explain “How to Deliver the Perfect Powerpoint.” Check out his excellent video presentation and a text summary of his key points below:

1. Convey Your Core Message. Your powerpoint presentation has no greater purpose than enabling you to convey your core message. Assume your audience can only remember one thing. What do you want it to be? Use minimal text and powerful images to drive home this core message.

2. Exercise Restraint in Preparation. Don’t rush to open up Powerpoint! Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen, suggests that before you open powerpoint to assemble your slides, you should take some time to go somewhere you can be creative and brainstorm to find your core message. Then, “cut the fat” off of your presentation and assemble your ideas into a storyboard with a logical flow.


3. Design Simply. When you are conveying your core message, you will find that there is nothing more powerful than a simple design. Avoid using animations or other flashy features that powerpoint has. Design your slides simply so you can be certain that your audience comprehends the core message of each slide. Mike offers some excellent examples in his slideshow.


4. Be Natural. Your presentation ought to be natural—well-rehearsed, but not memorized.  Most importantly, you want to be confident. And that confidence will show if you feel well-prepared and can be present while presenting. To ensure you are confident and to avoid anxiety do a tech check before you take the stage. Send your powerpoint to the presentation host, put it on a flash drive, and bring your laptop. Count on technology failing in the least opportune moments and always have a back up plan, and back up technology. At the end of the day, your powerpoint should only enhance your talk, and your presentation should never rely on it.

Do’s and Don’ts.

  • Don’t use block text. Do use powerful images.
  • Don’t put multiple pictures on one slide (it’s distracting).
  • Don’t put your logo on every slide (it’s distracting and definitely unnecessary)
  • Don’t use a lot of text on your slides (your audience is tempted to read)
  • Do break bullet points into multiple slides, each conveying one key point (see Mike’s example)

Mike originally presented this powerpoint in a Sparkseed webinar. Sparkseed’s aim is to support college social entrepreneurs. One of the ways it provides this support is by hosting periodic webinars on the skills important for launching successful social enterprises. If you’re interested in attending a Sparkseed webinar, contact John Katz (johnkatz(at)sparkseed.org).

Many many thanks to Mike for taking the time to share his powerpoint designing wisdom with us! Please share other tips and thoughts you have on designing the perfect powerpoint presentation!

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I want to live in a world where every human being can be the master of their own fate, unbound by the chains of poverty, oppression, or injustice.