PowerPoint Presentations: How to Use This Tool More Effectively

Many of us use PowerPoint to convey a message to both small and large groups. Too often we see “death by powerpoint” in the corporate environment where people don’t use it effectively. Get clever when using your PowerPoint – this article has 20 tips for becoming a more engaging presenter when you use this tool.

Only use a maximum of six (6) words on each line. Too many words is too much clutter and hard for your audience to read.

Only use a maximum of six (6) lines of text on each slide. If you have too many lines of text your audience will spend their time reading your slides and not listening to you speak.

Keep slides clear and uncluttered. Avoid using many graphics or too busy with information – make your message clear.

Use animation where relevant but don’t overdo it. This feature can really highlight a key message… or distract your audience if not done correctly.

Use sound effects and movie clips to enhance your presentation. This is a great technique when it works! Be sure to test your presentation in the live environment before you show your audience. Just because it worked at home or your office… doesn’t always mean it will work when your audience appears.

Don’t talk to your Powerpoint … remember you have an audience that can read. Don’t insult the intelligence of your audience and assume they can’t read your slides. Use different words to the ones on your slides.

Keep your slides to a minimum - people want to hear your message not be distracted by too many slides. They have come to hear a real person, not an electronic presenter. Only use slides to enhance and reinforce your message.

Don’t use dark coloured backgrounds – this makes it hard to read from the back of the room. Be aware of the effects of different background colours.

Use large font only as small font is too hard to read from a distance.

Change the font size of words on the same slide to emphasize key words. Don’t make every word the same font – if you want to make words stand out, use different colours and fonts.

Don’t rely on your PowerPoint – technology can sometimes fail us – know your content and also have a hard copy of your presentation with you at all times.

Get creative with photos and images Don’t use Italic font – it is too hard to read.

Avoid using all capital letters as it is also difficult to read. In email etiquette this is seen as shouting, PowerPoint could be interpreted the same way.

Test the colours on a large screen as some may change from your laptop to the large projection.

Create a master slide – this might include your logo and in your corporate colours to reinforce your brand.

Use a remote controlled mouse or plan your movement and slide design so that you are not bound to your keyboard location.

Know how to navigate Powerpoint – in the event you press your mouse incorrectly or your system falters it is important to look like you know how to use this tool.

Learn how to insert tables, graphs, graphics and photos to enhance your presentation – rather than just using text.

Attend a course to increase your Powerpoint skills and learn creative ways to use this tool.

Don’t kill your audience with ‘death by PowerPoint’ – find creative ways to use this tool and you will become a more engaging and on-purpose presenter.

The 5 Commandments of Effectively Using Humor in Any Presentation

I couldn’t believe I was going to open my presentation with that joke. Me, of all people! Yet, there I was. With my heart pounding in anticipation… I was about to bound onto the platform and speak in front of over 250 people. Not only that, I was going to open my presentation with a bit I had just come up with!

Before I continue, you need to know the back-story. I was asked to emcee AWAI’s 2009 FastTrack to Success Bootcamp Awards Ceremony.

Prior to that event, Michael Masterson was giving an important presentation to attendees on the “peer review” process. In a nutshell, it is a rating system used to improve a sales letter. The goal is to boost the headline, lead, and transitions so the copy snaps, crackles, and pops off the page.

As I wandered around the room during Michael’s presentation, I couldn’t help but notice that some attendees were struggling to grasp exactly how the peer review should be done.

When Michael’s presentation ended, we broke for lunch. Thirty minutes later, the Awards Ceremony started. I took the microphone, and with a straight face, said to the attendees:

“News Flash: Michael Masterson is proud to announce that, four minutes ago, he created a brand-new rating system for copywriters. It’s called ‘The Peer Review Within the Peer Review’!” (Audience LAUGHS.)

“After you give your rating… the group then rates your rating. That’s right, folks… the rating never ends.

“When it’s all over, you will be so confused – you’ll most likely leave the industry. (HUGE burst of laughter – a cathartic release – and applause from the audience.) I had struck comedic gold.

Humor should play an important role in every speech you give. Why? Because an audience will forgive anything – except a boring presentation. And you – yes, you – can get laughs. Simply follow the five commandments of effectively using humor.

Commandment #1: Thou Shalt Know Thy Audience.

In writing a marketing promotion, you have to know your audience’s wants, needs, desires, and their shared pain. Same thing with giving a speech.

My opening riff at the Awards Ceremony was the right joke… for the right audience… at the right time. It struck a comedic nerve with them. Nowhere else could it have had the same impact.

Commandment #2: Thou Shalt Never Tell an UNTESTED Joke (or Humorous Story) at the Beginning of a Speech.

Yes, I opened my Bootcamp presentation with a brand-new joke – and I took a chance by doing it. It’s usually better to position a new joke/humorous story later in your presentation, after your audience is warmed up. Because if the bit falls flat, you will have to worry about getting them back on your side. Not a good way to get started.

But, as I said, this was exactly the right joke at the right time for the right audience. And there’s something else I didn’t tell you: I had tested that joke on two people during the lunch break. And it got a huge laugh. So I felt pretty sure it would work.

Commandment #3: Thou Shalt Choose Thy Target Appropriately.

In today’s politically correct world, you must carefully pick your premises and punch lines. Depending on the venue, stay away from religion, politics, the disabled, and any blue material. Best to stick with subjects that everyone in your audience can relate to, without being insulted.

When in doubt, leave it out. For tried-and-true laughs, do your homework and discover who your audience’s competition or common enemy is. Then really make fun of that target… and prepare yourself for laughs and applause.

Warning: Never, EVER make fun of the person who is signing your check. (Trust me on this one!)

Commandment #4: Thou Shalt Be Self-Effacing, NOT Self-Deprecating.
Some comedians have built careers on making themselves the butt of the joke. Self-deprecating humor, as it is called, puts the audience in a position of superiority. That’s why, for example, they always laugh at fat jokes made by fat comedians.

But keep in mind that you’re not a nightclub comic. When you’re speaking in a corporate or a business environment, you want the respect that comes with being an expert. So you don’t want to make yourself look like an idiot. But you can – and should – use humor in a humble way that points out some of your minor flaws. It will endear you to your audience and help you bond with them.

Commandment #5: Thou Shalt Take Control of Thy Speaking Environment.

Humor works best when there’s intimacy in the room. Arrive at your venue early, and take control. Make sure the room is cool. The colder, the better. This will help your audience stay attentive and focused on you.

Most important, make sure the seats are as close to the stage as possible. Too much distance between you and your audience, and the power of what you’re saying will be greatly diminished.

I once gave a presentation on a stage with a huge buffet table right in front of it. (Out of my control.) I knew this was going to be a distraction to my audience, so I took advantage of it. I said, “You know, folks, I’ve never spoken in front of rising steam before!” My audience approved of this self-effacing humor – where I acknowledged the obvious – with a hearty laugh. Once you get some experience and get your speaking chops, you, too, will discover how easy it is to exploit “humor nuggets” like these.

Learning how to write and present humor is just like any other craft. All it takes is following a set of steps that anyone can master.

In other words… you don’t have to be a comedian to get big laughs as a speaker!

A Presentation Tea Chest For An Elegant Tea Service

In most tea services today, a tea box or menu is used for presenting tea, but the consumer’s tea selection is often made by name recognition only. With the wide range of whole-leaf teas available today, the Tea Butler Presentation Chest makes it possible for individuals to examine and select teas based on color, texture, and aroma. The hardwood chests are simple, yet elegant, and the presentation process dignifies the traditions of the tea ceremony that have evolved throughout history.

Tea Butler Presentation Chest: The Tea Butler presentation chest is made of beautiful hardwood and has a series of see-through sparkling clear octagonal acrylic tea jars. Each chest contains one set of loose-leaf tea selections. The chest has an attractive velour faced foam insert with octagonal cutouts that hold the tea jars, while allowing them to be easily removed for closer viewing. This allows the patron or guest to easily open the tea jar to examine the tea’s texture, color, make-up, and scent.

A tea plaque, located in the tea chest cover, has a detailed description of each tea, and each block is aligned with its corresponding tea jar. The teas are organized by tea type to simplify the presentation. For example, herbal caffeine-free teas are located on the left, black and flavored black teas are in the middle, and green and flavored green teas are located on the right. The plaque can easily be customized for each tea blend selection and can include individual or organization names and/or logos.

Tea Butler Presentation Process: In a restaurant table service, for example, the server brings the Tea Butler to the table, describes how the teas are organized on the tea plaque, and then goes about other tasks while the patron takes a few minutes to read the descriptions, examine the teas, and make their choice. There is no need for extensive training about the individual teas.

Tea Butler Benefits: The Tea Butler offers patrons an opportunity to explore new teas and make an informed decision about their tea selection. Past experience has shown that patrons like it because it is interesting and informative, and adds a pleasurable dimension to their dining experience. Servers like it because it’s simple to use and their patrons enjoy it. Restaurant owners like it because the Tea Butler can be brought to the table with the dessert menu, thus encouraging patrons to have dessert, after dinner beverages, or both. The added benefit for owners is that their sales
generally double or triple in a product where gross margins are high.

Tea Butler Series Presentation Chests and Trays: The Tea Butler chests and trays come in a variety of sizes in either maple or cherry. The beautiful hardwood products are stained mahogany and varnished to produce an attractive display product. The presentation chests are available in 6 or 8 count maple; and 9 or 12 count cherry. The presentation tray is available in 6 or 8 count maple. There are 12 standard plaques and tea sets for the maple and cherry chests, and 3 standard plaques and tea sets for the tea trays. Custom plaques and tea sets versions can be implemented. Each of these products can be viewed with graphic detail on our website.

Specialty Teas and the Silken Tea Sachet: As interest in tea has grown, consumers are looking for even more variety. Specialty teas are now the most interesting and fastest growing sector of tea, and its growth is poised to continue over the next decade, according to the Tea Association of the USA. A fitting definition of specialty tea is tea that has been specially cared for in ways that allow the teas to achieve their highest level of quality. This care starts with the planting, cultivating, and careful timing of when and how the tea is harvested, processed, packaged, and shipped. This produces teas which are wonderful to taste, have great sensory appeal, are interesting to the eye, and are soothing and relaxing to drink. This tea deserves a presentation that is as carefully prepared as the tea it presents.

In the presence of such fine specialty teas, it became apparent that the ordinary tea bag, because of its limited space for steeping, would not allow the full-leaf tea to brew to its full potential. To meet this need, tea vendors began looking for alternative ways to package these full-leaf teas that would be easy to use and attractive to consumers. Harney & Sons, one of the finest tea companies in the world, offers a broad range of silken tea sachets that contains a generous amount of pre-portioned loose leaf tea that provides a full two-cup teapot with a single sachet, taking the guesswork out of brewing a wonderful pot of tea. The Tea Butler has partnered with Harney & Sons to offer their fine teas to restaurants, resorts, and hotels, as well as for retail customers at its online store.

Tea Butler Trays in Coffee Shops and Retail Locations: Traditionally, coffee shops have had a captive audience, with little interest in serving any but the most basic teas. In recent years, however, there has been a growing demand for healthier beverages and the interest in tea, especially high-end specialty teas, has caught the interest of well known coffee chains such as the West Coast chain, formerly known as the Coffee Bean, now renamed the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

Coffee shops of all sizes have a common problem: lack of display counter space. The Tea Butler tray was designed specifically to meet this need. The trays are made of hardwood maple, and are stained mahogany and varnished. They are longer and narrower than the tea chests, containing one row of 8 sparkling clear octagonal acrylic tea jars and are uncovered. The tea description plaque is placed on a beveled surface on the tray, in front of the tea jars, with each tea description aligned with its tea sample. The trays are attractive, draw attention, and encourage patrons to order specialty teas. Some shops are also selling Harney & Sons colorful retail 20-count tea sachet tins as well. A stepped 8-tin rack fits nicely behind the tray, encouraging patrons to purchase their favorite teas.

Conclusion: The presentation of tea doesn’t need to be a blind, uninteresting process. With Tea Butlers, it can be simple, yet elegant and informative, where both the presenter and their guests can enjoy the process!