In a nutshell: If you’re the expert on the topic of interest but don’t know how to make a powerful impact on your audience, look no further. These 10 takeaways will help you perfect your next PowerPoint Presentation.

Know your Audience

Beyond your audience’s demographics (age, sex, occupation, economic status, education, political orientation and leisure activities), you should have a grip on what your audience already knows about the subject you’re presenting on. The goal of your presentation should be to inform, inspire, persuade or entertain. You must know about your audience to build a presentation that gets through.

Stay Within Time Constraints

According to ’s“8 Bad Habits That Ruin Good Presentations,” asking for extra time and talking too fast will set your presentation up for disaster. These both can be resolved by knowing exactly how much time you have and planning your presentation to fit within this constraint, including leaving time for questions at the end. If you don’t have the time to get questions, be sure to let people know they can email or tweet at you with questions. Give them some way to connect with you when the presentation wraps up.

Be a Storyteller

People often fall back on shocking stats or fun facts to grab the audience’s attention. But you can do this more effectively through storytelling. Before even opening PowerPoint to begin putting together your presentation, draft the narrative you want to portray. An outline will help guide you in building the slides and keep you focused on the core message.

Minimize the Number of Slides

The PowerPoint slides should not be the star of the show. They only provide a visual for people to see while you’re presenting. So, don’t distract the audience by clicking through slides too quickly – because you have too many. Only create a slide if it supports what you’re saying and gives the audience a worthwhile takeaway. And don’t put everything you’re going to say on the slide. Why would anyone sit through your presentation if they could just read it instead?

Choose a Font that Can Be Seen

According to Microsoft’s“Tips for Creating and Delivering an Effective Presentation,” a one-inch letter is readable from 10 feet, 2-inch from 20 feet and 3-inch from 30 feet. Depending on the space in which you’re presenting, how far away the audience is from the screen and how big the screen, select an appropriate font size. And be sure it’s a readable font. Pro tip: Use sans-serif fonts for headers and serif fonts for larger blocks of text.

Make it Visually Engaging

Graphics is one aspect of making the presentation visually engaging (more on that in the next tip). But being aesthetically pleasing includes using a consistent color scheme and similar design elements across slides. Additionally, consider animations (use sparingly and where appropriate) to keep the audience engaged throughout the presentation. According to The Muse’s“3 Tips for Making Beautiful PowerPoint Slides,” other tips include using as few words as possible and favoring bullets over sentences to cut down on wordiness.

Graphics Should Be Relevant

First, make sure whatever clip art or photo you choose is high-quality enough and looks professional. Fuzzy graphics are a sure-fire way to look like an amateur. Your graphics also need to match the message and theme of the presentation, not just be attention-getting. And make sure you have permission to use any images you find online – they may be copyrighted.

Use High Contrast

If you’re using a dark background, use light graphics and text – and vice versa. If you don’t have a designer’s eye, consider Microsoft’s built-in themes. They automatically set a visually satisfying contrast level.

Don’t Read the Slides

Practice makes perfect. Really, you need to practiceyour presentation. You may think you have all the support you need to ace your presentation in the notes section of your PowerPoint or on your slides. But there’s nothing like talking through it a few times. Run it by a few honest peers too because something that makes sense to you might not to someone else. Try it out in front of those with the knowledge level on the subject that matches your future audience.

Make Them Act

According to Fast Company’s“5 Ways to Make the Audience the Star of Your Presentation,” you should empower the audience to take action by the end of your presentation. For example, if you’re giving a presentation about social media, tell people to send a tweet. If you’re talking about goal-setting, inspire them to commit to their next goal. You don’t want them thinking, “Great presentation. Now, what?”

Keep the conversation going: What’s your top PowerPoint presentation tip?

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