Rule No. 1: Consider Your Audience
Any presentation needs to start with an outline or plan. And any plan needs to begin by asking yourself this question, “Who is my audience?” Occasionally, we are fortunate enough to present to a homogenous group with a similar mindset. For example, when we speak to investors, we know that metrics and statistics need to play a large roll. A presentation that is filled with big beautiful photographs may cause this group to wonder where the “meat” of the presentation is. Alternatively, teachers love examples of any concept or idea, because this is an important teaching tool they use daily in the classroom. So, to “speak” to them about how to motivate students, or how to introduce a new topic, it’s important to outline plenty of examples, because they are already used to thinking in those terms. Another audience “type” is salespeople. This group is required to know their product or service inside out. If the purpose of the PowerPoint is to train them, then the presentation must “dig deep”. That doesn’t mean that every selling point should expanded upon using run-on wordy sentences. What it does mean is including all the key features which will make their “job” (selling) easier to do. It’s important to fully develop the benefits of each feature before moving on to the next one.
So we’ve talked about homogenous groups, but what about the “all-employee meeting where you have a mix of executives, administrators, marketing people, human resources, etc. When creating a presentation for a more diverse group, it’s important to consider the variety of ways people assimilate knowledge. A presentation that is highly visual, would reach a portion of that audience, but not all. Consequently, an emphasis on numbers and metrics will bore some of this group to tears. So what to do? Well, the best advice is to have a balance. In other words, don’t slant the presentation toward one particular group. Photos are great, but not necessarily on every slide. Text is great, but long paragraphs are not recommended.
Animation can have a place, but “silly” bells and whistles almost never work with any group. Most importantly, get to your point quickly and move on to the next talking point without deliberation. When speaking to a diverse group, make sure you have something for everyone so that no one is thinking “Why am I here?”