Are you Practicing PowerPoint - "Presentation Zen"? | Reaching Aspiration (2023)

As part of my reading for myPersonal MBA, I am documenting the key lessons I learnt from Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery.It is not intendedto be a summary or review, rather a reflection of how the book has influenced my presentation style (or Zen).

I present regularly, I’m probably better than most. That doesn’t mean I am any good. I’ve seen plenty of presentations, few that have been excellent.

Like reading and writing. This is one of those assumed skills. The question is not, “Do you know how to present?”, instead, the safer question is aked, “Do you know how to use PowerPoint?“. The truthful answer to both is, probably “no“.

After reading this book I’ve realised that I use some of the best practice guidelines. But my number one failing is too much information. I’m trying to dual-purpose the presentation as a prompt and a reference. I will change this going forward.

An approach, not a method. A philosophy, not a formula.

It is easy to understand why we are not great at presenting, we see so few great examples and then dismiss those as innate talent. The good news is that we work well with examples. Once we have seen some good examples, we can overlay them elsewhere. Realising that few ideas are unique and this book is about giving us some examples, guidelines and principles. It is certainly not intended to be a rule book.

I read this book in small doses. Parallel to others, this can be tricky, as my prefered method is to dive in, but not all books work like that. It is an obvious truth, life doesn’t always match my preferences.

Present your message

A picture is worth 1,000 words“- a useful cliche, it makes a point. What is sometimes missed is that there are two sides to the cliche. The wrong picture, results in 1,000 distracting words, off the point. Sometimes no picture would be more powerful. Simplicity is better, or at least generally preferable.

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In this multi-media age, we love full immersion experiences, targeting all the senses. The caution is that most people can’t listen and read at the same time. As people tend to read by hearing a voice in their head, trying to read and listen, is like trying to listen to two people at the same time. There is only space for one voice. When presenting it is necessary to decide whether that is your voice or your words on the screen. Pick one at a time.

A multimedia approach, keeps intrigue and is novel. It should retain its simplicity though.

The Message

Decide on the message.Have a core point, that if all else is forgotten, what would you want remembered. Then anchor everything on this point and why it matters. The so what?

Then take the busyness away. You owe it to the people you are presenting to.

So, what makes a message stick:

  • Simplicity
  • Unexpectedness
  • Concreteness
  • Credibility – quotes can help.
  • Emotions
  • Stories

Prompts not a reference

I typically use slides as a prompt for me, so I can feel confident that I don’t forget or miss key concepts. I also them as a reference for people to refer to later. I realise now, that needs to change. Too much detail is distracting and overwhelming.

My habits are not all bad though, I regularly use flip-charts and videos to fight attention fatigue and ensure I engage my audience.

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Key elements to planning a presentation

  • Design – Design should not be noticeable, only the message should stand out. The analogy given is like signage at an airport, it should be functional.
  • Story – Tell a story. There are different ways to tell a story and one is to identify the problem, give examples of the conflict created, then why and how it was solved.
  • Symphony – Sythensize the ideas. They should not feel discreet, but flow.
  • Empathy – What does the recipient want to know.
  • Play – Not everything needs to be serious.
  • Meaning – Make a difference with the message.

The Slides checklist from Seth Godin’s advice

  • Do the slides reinforce and not repeat my words
  • No more than 6 words
  • Quality images, strong impact
  • No distracting transitions
  • Create a written document, notes to leave with them. Tell them they are coming, so they focus on you, not notes.

Seth is a master, with innate talent, matched with focus and determination. I’m probably likely to end up, with discipline, at best a poor reflection of him. I’d take that! –Better, not perfection.

Plan before you do – measure twice, cut once

It is better to plan away from the computer. A computer does not facilitate clarity or creativity, it is too busy. A better start is to draft a storyboard of the slides analogue style. For some reason I find it much easier to discard a drafted written slide, than a digital one.

Using a piece of paper or a whiteboard are my prefered methods. In fact when I add some post-its and I find it amazing how much more progress I can make, conceptualising the problem(s) and the solutions seem to just flow. The key is to start with the purpose, in this case the message.

We don’t like taking away from what we have. So, I take everything away, start with the first principles. Thenall the scattered concepts can be moved and organised to find the right symphony. Sometimes I end up skipping using slides altogether.

Even in presentations and workshops, I get people to use post-it notes and a flip chart. They are very powerful tools to linke people to the idea. They can see it happening. There is no digital disconnect.

I find that planning and the re-doing it the way to go. “Doing it twice” is actually quicker and results in a better product. When building a house, it starts with the design.


From Planning to Design

With proper planning, putting the slides together based on your branded template should be easier.

The big four of design:

  1. Contrast
  2. Repetition – consistency in design. A balance between distraction and boredom.
  3. Alignment
  4. Proximity – make it easy for the viewer to link

Be careful with familiarity fatigue. In the past I liked to start with something familiar, this stops people putting up their defences. But it’s also hurt me, because people become confident there is nothing new. I was even stopped once, “Oh, don’t worry, I’ve been through this already.

Less for more

The three key words are: simplicity, clarity, brevity.

With this, restraint is key. By setting constraints it allows creativity and flow. Take the example of a Haiku, very restricted, clear rules. It forces us beyond lazy creativity, the type which which comes easier, into a deeper level.

Once the first draft is complete, the editing starts, this can and should be brutal – if that slide wasn’t there, would the story fall apart? Does it really contribute? – To stave off, the inevitable, but they could want to know, there is always the option to put into the appendix.

Target improving the signal to noise ratio:

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  • Don’t include all the data. Only enough to make your point.
  • Simple background.
  • Making the slide more interesting is not the goal, the message should be interesting, not the slide.

But they will forget anyway

There is the underlying temptation to add too much detail. To the point that the presentator becomes redundant. A simple and recommended solution is to create a detailed handout and simple slides. Then only give the handout at the end. It is worth flagging at the beginning that you will give them a handout.

Some people pay better attention by taking notes, but I feel some people are so frantically taking notes, that they miss the point. It seems to go in the ear, through the brain, out the hand and onto the paper. Barely a Formula 1 pit stop in the mind.

The Delivery

The individual’s stye and experience will influence this significantly. It is also beyond the scope of this post.

A few universals though –

  • Grounding beforehand. – Take a moment to get in the moment. My mate tenses his muscles in his shoulders and then relaxes them. This grounds him in the moment and no doubt releases some tension.
  • Be in the moment. – “Be here now. Be somewhere else later. Is that so complicated?” – David Bader.
  • Connect with your audience. – Ask a question early on and write down what they say. They feed off your energy, so smile.
  • Enjoy what you are presenting. – If you find it dull, they definitely will.
  • Eat until 80% full. – Rather finish early and leave them wanting more than leave them stuffed and fatigued.

In the end

Make sure it is clear you are coming to an end. A lot of the time it’s done by ending with questions, which can work well, depending if there are questions and what they are. I’d always have a statement to end on though, remember when they leave you want them to leave with one thing. The message.


What is the Presentation Zen approach? ›

The mission of Presentation Zen is simple: to rid the world of bad PowerPoint. And “bad” goes beyond aesthetics. Although you'll definitely be pushed toward cleaner, more sophisticated design, the book's message is bigger: Our presentations – our lessons – are boring.

What are best practices for PowerPoint presentations? ›

  • Keep it simple, but not simplistic.
  • Have a theme and be consistent.
  • Be smart with colors.
  • Choose fonts wisely.
  • Limit text.
  • Use high-quality graphics, not clip art.
  • Try using video or audio.
  • Minimize distractions in your slides.
5 Jul 2022

What is good presentation design? ›

The main rule for having a visually appealing presentation design is to keep things simple. This means that the less text you have on the slide, the better. Your slide should highlight only your main idea, as we mentioned in a previous point, a few supportive statements and visual elements.

Why is the B key important? ›

The B key makes you more flexible. Remember to use it in a more interactive presentation. Using black slides requires planning ahead but is less error-prone.

What are the 6 tips in creating an effective PowerPoint presentation? ›

Try presenting the same information this way instead.
  1. Tip #1: Never use more than six words per slide. That's right. ...
  2. Tip #2: Choose images over words. ...
  3. Tip #3: Reinforce, don't repeat. ...
  4. Tip #4: Don't use bullets. ...
  5. Tip #5: Avoid fancy footwork. ...
  6. Tip #6: Use handouts, but not a copy of the slide deck.
22 May 2019

What are the 5 Rules of PowerPoint? ›

  • Each slide should have no more than 5 lines; each line should have no more than 5 words. • Why? ...
  • Use font size 24+ for titles and 20+ for body, and no more than two fonts per slide. • ...
  • A picture is worth a thousand words. • Why? ...
  • Use body language to show people where to look. • ...
  • Keep your presentations under 15 minutes. •

How do you give and receive proper feedback as professional PPT? ›

16. Giving and Receiving FeedbackGiving and Receiving Feedback  Be DirectBe Direct  Say what you meanSay what you mean  Don't wrap it up with fancy words or abstractDon't wrap it up with fancy words or abstract language. language.  Be PositiveBe Positive  Say what you appreciate.

What is the main purpose of PowerPoint? ›

Presenting Your Content

The purpose of PowerPoint is to act as a visual aid as a presenter goes along presenting their option, ideas, sales pitch, etc. Make sure to not make your slides too wordy and concentrate on adding only basic bullet points.

How can a teacher make a good PowerPoint presentation? ›

Teachers: 5 Tips for Creating Great PowerPoint Presentations
  1. Highlight a take home message. A PowerPoint presentation should be basic, simple and not distracting. ...
  2. Add pictures. ...
  3. Add video. ...
  4. Practice. ...
  5. Make it fun.

How would you explain a successful presentation? ›

A good presentation should be concise and should be focused on the topic. It should not move off-track. A good presentation should have the potential to convey the required information. The fear should be transformed into positive energy during the presentation.

What should I say before a presentation? ›

  • Good morning/afternoon everyone and welcome to my presentation. ...
  • Let me start by saying a few words about my own background.
  • As you can see on the screen, our topic today is......
  • My talk is particularly relevant to those of you who....
  • This talk is designed to act as a springboard for discussion.
13 Feb 2020

How do you prepare for an anxiety presentation? ›

  1. Select a topic of interest to you.
  2. Prepare carefully–know your material.
  3. Practice–rehearse your talk with a friend.
  4. Know your audience.
  5. Challenge negative thinking–make 3 x 5 cards of positive thoughts or have friends write out inspirational thoughts for you.

What are the 4 keys that make for a good presentation? ›

There are four keys that will help your audience follow along and remember your presentation: content, audience, structure, and consistency.

How do you write a summary for a presentation? ›

Briefly summarize the primary points of the presentation. Avoid digressing into new information, arguments or points of view. Also avoid running a point into the ground that you have already discussed in detail during the presentation.

When making a PowerPoint presentation less is more is good advice when it comes to? ›

When making a PowerPoint presentation, "less is more" is good advice when it comes to: limiting the amount of material you include on each slide. Active listening means the listener: completely focuses on the speaker during the delivery of the message.

How do you open a PowerPoint presentation answer? ›

Open an OpenDocument Presentation file in PowerPoint

Click the File tab. Click Open. To only see files saved in OpenDocument format, in the File of type list, click OpenDocument Presentation. Click the file you want to open, and then click Open.

How do you write on a presentation in PowerPoint? ›

On the Home tab, under Insert, click Text. On the pop-up menu, click Text Box. On the slide, click the location where you want to add the text box. Type or paste your text in the text box.

How do I tell what key my song is in? ›

The easiest way to figure out the key of a song is by using its key signature. The number of sharps/flats in the key signature tell you the key of the song. A key signature with no sharps or flats is the key of C (or A minor). The table below summarizes the key signatures.

What is the 5 by 5 rule in PowerPoint? ›

Follow the 5/5/5 rule

To keep your audience from feeling overwhelmed, you should keep the text on each slide short and to the point. Some experts suggest using the 5/5/5 rule: no more than five words per line of text, five lines of text per slide, or five text-heavy slides in a row.

How do you explain a PowerPoint presentation in English? ›

Ask yourself what the presentation is all about, its title and its goal. Think about who your audience is. Figure out what your main message is. Think about the structure of the presentation: the opening, the main part and the summary.

What points should you remember while making a presentation Class 9? ›

  • Show your Passion and Connect with your Audience. ...
  • Focus on your Audience's Needs. ...
  • Keep it Simple: Concentrate on your Core Message. ...
  • Smile and Make Eye Contact with your Audience. ...
  • Start Strongly. ...
  • Remember the 10-20-30 Rule for Slideshows. ...
  • ab Tell Stories. ...
16 May 2020

What is the 7 point rule for PowerPoint? ›

The 7x7 rule is simple: For every slide, use no more than seven lines of text — or seven bullet points — and no more than seven words per line. Slide titles aren't included in the count.

What is the golden rule of PowerPoint presentation? ›

The rule states that each presentation should have no more than 10 slides each. The total time taken for the presentation should not exceed 20 minutes. And the font size for all the text in the presentation should not be less than 30 px.

When using PowerPoint In a presentation it is most effective to quizlet? ›

According to your textbook, the most effective way to use PowerPoint is to read to your audience from the slides that are on screen. One advantage of preparing your visual aids well in advance is that doing so allows you to use them while practicing your speech.

How do you provide feedback for training? ›

Some ways you can provide feedback training are through: Sharing articles about how to receive and give feedback. Letting your employees watch videos of great feedback interactions as examples. Encouraging your learners to always raise their concerns and give constructive criticisms.

How do you handle feedback after a presentation? ›

  1. Manage Your Initial Response (i.e. Avoid Getting Defensive)
  2. Active Listening.
  3. Consider the Potential Benefits.
  4. Put Yourself in Their Shoes.
  5. Thank Them Sincerely.
  6. Ask for Examples to Better Understand the Feedback.
  7. Request Time to Follow Up.
  8. Engage in Self-Assessment.

How do I give and receive feedback as a professional? ›

How to give feedback in the workplace
  1. Know your purpose. To keep things positive and constructive, it helps to have a good reason to give feedback. ...
  2. Focus on behavior and not the person. ...
  3. Focus on how the behavior affected you. ...
  4. Ask questions. ...
  5. Be specific. ...
  6. Be timely. ...
  7. Be aware of the moment.

How do you introduce yourself in a job interview PPT? ›

Self Introduction in Interview
  1. Self-Introduction IN Interview.
  2.  Start with a smile on your face & give details about Name, Place after greeting.  Tell about your educational details. ...
  3. Thank you for giving me opportunity for introducing myself. My name is Yashraj Sharad More and I am from Surat. ...
  4. Thank You..
13 Sept 2015

How do you introduce yourself in a speech or presentation? ›

Just introduce yourself by saying your name, the school you represent, and your topic. Make it easy. This way you get to your content more quickly and lower your nervousness. Typically, after you get the first few sentences out of the way, your nervousness will drop dramatically.

How do you sell yourself in a presentation? ›

How to Market Yourself Well in a Presentation
  1. Engage the Audience. To be an effective presenter, you must be able to engage with the audience. ...
  2. Exude a Positive Attitude. ...
  3. Memorize Your Materials During Practice. ...
  4. Organize Your Presentation to Flow. ...
  5. Distribute Copies of Your Best Slides. ...
  6. Ensure Your Presentation Offers Value.
29 Jun 2021

Why PowerPoint is important to you as a student? ›

Using PowerPoint can help you present information in multiple ways (a multimodal approach) through the projection of color, images, and video for the visual mode; sound and music for the auditory mode; text and writing prompts for the reading/writing mode; and interactive slides that ask students to do something, e.g. ...

What are the three important elements of a slide presentation? ›

what are the three important elements of a slide presentation? master slides, content, and visuals.

Does PowerPoint presentation enhance learning? ›

Used thoughtfully, PowerPoint can enhance your teaching sessions by providing a roadmap, reinforcing what you say and allowing you to use graphics and other multimedia to clarify understanding and to support different learning styles.

What are the qualities of a good PowerPoint presentation? ›

content should be understandable to anyone who reads it (you shouldn't have to explain it to them) use colours that are contrasting but not jarring or distracting. if you use effects, transitions and animation try and make them relevant and consistent. too many slides will lose your audiance.

How do you make a PowerPoint step by step? ›

Create a presentation
  1. Open PowerPoint.
  2. In the left pane, select New.
  3. Select an option: To create a presentation from scratch, select Blank Presentation. To use a prepared design, select one of the templates. To see tips for using PowerPoint, select Take a Tour, and then select Create, .

Which is the most effective advice in creating a PowerPoint presentation? ›

Use key phrases and include only essential information. Limit punctuation and avoid putting words in all capital letters. Empty space on the slide will enhance readability. Use contrasting colors for text and background.

Who is the author of Presentation Zen? ›

About the Author

Garr Reynolds is an internationally acclaimed communications expert, and the creator of the most popular Web site on presentation design and delivery on the net: A soughtafter speaker and consultant, his clients include many in the Fortune 500.

How do you do an art presentation? ›

Ten tips for giving effective art history presentations
  1. Have a special script ready. You should not read your academic paper verbatim. ...
  2. Engage your audience. ...
  3. Know how slides and script interact. ...
  4. Organize your slides well. ...
  5. Select quality images. ...
  6. Black on back, and simple is good. ...
  7. Limit your text on screen. ...
  8. Less is more.

How do you start a presentation history? ›

THE INTRODUCTION: The presentation must have a clear introduction that explains what your talk will be about. It should make clear how your talk will be organized and your main points. It is almost impossible for an introduction to be too explicit in its explanation of your topic, thesis, and organization.

How do you interview an artist question? ›

General artist interview questions
  • Where are you from and how does that affect your work?
  • Who are your biggest artistic influences?
  • Tell me about your favorite medium.
  • Where do you find inspiration?
  • When is your favorite time of day to create?
  • Describe how art is important to society.
  • What motivates you to create?

How do I present my work to an art gallery? ›

Include the person's name, brief descriptions of your background, your body of work, your artist's statement, website, and why you think your art is a good fit for their gallery. Invite them to drop in on an exhibit that you've managed to secure from all that prior mingling—or even to your studio.


1. POV your me practicing better if u make a PowerPoint presentation one day for something important :
2. ICDL Practice - Presentation - Syllabus 5.0 (PowerPoint 2019)
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3. How to See Presentation Notes while presenting PowerPoint slides on Zoom
4. How to use Presenter Coach in PowerPoint!
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5. PowerPoint Presentations: Rehearse with Coach to improve your presentation
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6. 5 QUICK Ways to Improve Your PowerPoint Design
(Leila Gharani)
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