9 Tips to Score in Presentations

Want to keep posted on our latest articles/tertiary education updates? Join our telegram channel! We do a weekly roundup — absolutely no spam, we promise.

Presentations are part and parcel of any University degree. Some modules are Presentation-intensive, and some may not have it at all! Generally, making beautiful and efficient slides is key to delivering your message to (and impressing) any Professor. Here are 9 tips to make your Presentations much better!

1) No Prezi

Using Prezi back in Secondary School or JC was the “boomz” for some. However, in Uni, this does not work anymore. Many Professors complain of dizzying animations and superfluous transitions. Plus, it distracts the Professor from the real message you want to deliver, so stop using Prezi! PowerPoint or Keynote are the top picks for today.

If alternate presentation applications such as Canva suit your needs, go ahead and give it a try! You should still try and master Powerpoint, however: it’s still the go-to for many workplaces and will save you from some stress in the future. You can find free Powerpoint courses on course platforms like Udemy, and even Instagram accounts, teaching you helpful hacks.

Try these hacks out when you are on break!

2) Abuse PowerPoint’s “Morph” Transition

Just because we do not want to distract the Professor with animations (or prevent him from vomiting) does not mean we remove animations entirely! If you are a PowerPoint user like me (no money for Mac), the Morph transition is a stunning tool to beautify slide animations subtly. It quietly rearranges mutual objects from your current slide into the position of your next slide, fading non-mutual objects away.

Morph

3) Download Relevant PowerPoint/Keynote templates!

The default selection of templates works, but do you really want to settle for a template that the Professor has seen countless times? You can Google “free xxx template download for PowerPoint/Keynote”, with xxx being the theme of your presentation. There are some astounding templates out there, including some animated ones for your convenience!

Slidesgo is a good place to begin your template search.

4) Use a Progress Tracker

Professors and fellow classmates often get lost about how far in you are for your presentation. Are you talking about the Problem Statement or Challenges faced? Professors may have had a long, hard day, and their attention span may not be perfect too. To help all — consider including a Progress Tracker to show your Presentation’s progress! This also makes your slides look more professional and impressive. Here is an example for your reference.

Tracker

5) Graphics and Keywords over lengthy paragraphs

Longwinded paragraphs are fine, but do you think your Professor will really be able to see those small words on the screen? After a long day at work, would he bother to read that information that you’ll probably just read off? As the adage goes, a Picture paints a thousand words. Using Graphics makes it visually easier for the Professor to understand your paragraph, while showing the Keywords only makes it succinct and minimalist. Aesthetically pleasing, while very effective for your Professor’s understanding.

You can explore corporate presentations for inspiration, and break them down to find out why you like them — or otherwise.

Graphics and Keywords

Here’s one possible hack to help you gauge how much text goes on screen: the “5/5/5” rule!

Here’s what 5/5/5 stands for:

  • 5 words or less for each line of text
  • (No more than) 5 lines of text for each slide
  • 5 such slides in a row OR no more than 5 text-heavy slides at one go

There is another rule called the “10/20/30” rule. This rule sees you:

  • Use no more than 10 slides
  • Present within 20 minutes
  • Have text bigger than font size 30

While these may be called “rules”, treat them as guidelines you can reference! Not everything will be suitable for your presentation or purposes.

6) Know your Colour schemes

Colours can be used to aid readability or enhance the aesthetics of your presentation. It can even be used to attract attention when the class gets tired of seeing presentation after presentation! To achieve this, let’s break down colours into two general categories: Warm and Cool.

WARMCOOL

The idea is to contrast your background with your font colour to make the words stand out! You can also achieve greater contrast by layering your background with a translucent white/black colour.

  1. Click on the Insert tab > Shapes
  2. Select the desired shape
  3. Right-click on the shape, click Format Shape
  4. Select Line > No Line
  5. Select Solid Fill > Select White or Black > Set Transparency 75%
  6. Stretch the image to overlay your desired areas.

on the right

Generally, many students know the importance of using contrasting colours to enhance readability. However, there are two notable exceptions to this rule. Avoid Red/Blue or Red/Green contrasts, they strain the eye and make it very uncomfortable to read. Take a look for yourself!

strains the eye

6.5) Colour Theme-ing

Another way to utilise colour schemes to great effect is theme-ing. Using thematic colours enhances the aesthetics of your presentation while making it look more professional. For example, using Red and Purple for a presentation on Environmental Health doesn’t make sense. Green and brown, however, have earthy undertones and make your presentation more coherent. You can refer to this list as a rough guide!

ColourGeneral Feelings Evoked
BlackHeavy, technical, formal, death, enigmatism, mystery
BrownEarth, outdoors, books, leather
BluePeace, tranquillity, trust, confidence, security
PurpleRoyalty, wisdom, spirituality
GreenNature, environment, health, reptiles, supernatural
GrayConservative, practical, reliability, ambiguity, metal, ageing
RedPassion, love, intensity, heat, aggression, national affairs
OrangeWarmth, expansive, flamboyant, food, networking, fun
YellowOptimism, happiness, idealism, imagination, academic, danger
WhitePurity, holiness, cleanliness, simplicity, minimalism

 

Here are a few colour concepts to watch out for:

  • Triadic Colours

    • Colours are evenly spaced across the colour wheel in a triangular shape. This combination uses one colour as the dominant colour, and the other two as accent colours. These colours are usually more vibrant. and make for aesthetic combinations.
      • Examples: Red – Blue – Yellow
  • Complementary Colours

    • Colours are opposite each other on the colour wheel. One colour should be dominant, the other an accent, and choice of colours not too jarring to the eyes. Play around with different shades or tints!
      • Examples: Blue – Orange, Purple – Green
  • Analogous Colours

    • This refers to colours beside each other in the colour wheel. They are pleasing to the eyes due to their appearance in the natural world. Use one colour as the main, and the other two as accents or highlights.
      • Examples: Red – Orange – Yellow, Green – blue – purple
  • Monochromatic Colours  

    • By this, we don’t mean just black – grey – white! You pick one colour and harness its various tints or shades for this. This helps you achieve consistency and removes concerns that colours may clash. Toggle the amount of black, white and grey to achieve pretty hues!

7) Embed multimedia

Consider incorporating a short video or gif, if appropriate, if your presentation comes after many others. They’re a great way to engage your audience and perk them up after walls of text, especially if the content helps reinforce your next point or message!

If you are presenting for a comms module, for example, you could share a short ad that caught your attention recently at the beginning to get everyone excited.

8) Include quizzes or questions

If you are not defending a thesis, and your presentation is just part of a class project, consider increasing participation via quick quizzes and questions! They could be fun ones asking the audience to guess the answer to surprising facts or just to share how they feel about the presentation thus far.

You could also use platforms such as Mentimeter to insert a slide (via a plugin), collecting their questions in real time! It helps the audience feel more invested in what you talk about and gives them an opportunity to contribute as well. They can also upvote the questions they really want answers to, which gives you a gauge of how well they digest the content.

Involve your audience and build rapport! Make them your allies!

9) Go for Sans Serif fonts

Sans serif fonts like Roboto, Helvetica and Calibri are great for presentations due to their readability across different screen sizes and resolutions. They tend to be wider and more uniform, making them easier for the audience’s eyes to follow!

Sans serif fonts are great for headings, titles and captions. Of course, you can use serif fonts for contrast, too, if they are suitable, but limit font varieties to two for consistency.

Tip: If you will not be using your laptop to present, or it’s a group presentation needing multiple people to edit, go for standard fonts available across all operating systems and programmes. This will prevent your font from changing and the added stress.

Final thoughts

Many teams underestimate the importance of having good slides. Some justify their lack of preparation for slides with, “We have the content, no need spoil market”.

However, good slides go further than just “Spoiling market”. Content is King, but presentations are a visual aid; we are better are remembering information when it is presented to us visually. What use is fantastic content when the Professor is overloaded with information, thus missing key points of your presentation? Furthermore, doing good slides shows the Professor that more effort was invested, which would likely leave a better impression.

Hence, it may be worth the additional half an hour to curate and refine your slides before a presentation carefully.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here