How To Use Slides During A Presentation

Using a projector during a speech requires special skills
Using a projector during a speech requires special skills
Image Credit: samantha celera

Pick up just about any book that you find at the store about how to become a better speaker and you’ll probably find a chapter (or two!) that talk about the dangers of using PowerPoint or Keynote slides as a part of your next speech. I agree that there are a lot of different things that you can do incorrectly when you use these tools; however, they are so valuable that because of the importance of public speaking we all end up using them in the end. Now the big question that you are going to have to find an answer to is just exactly how you can make your slides work for you and not against you during your next presentation?

How To Make Sure Your Presentation Doesn’t Use You

When we decide to use slides as a part of our presentation we open up a door to complexity that we may not be well positioned to deal with. When we agree to give a speech and we decide to use slides with that speech, we will often spend a great deal of time making sure that our slides are perfect. What this means is that we may end up spending less time that we should preparing the speech itself.

One of the biggest problems that I see speakers dealing with is the simple fact that they forget who the star of their presentation is. The answer is that it is them. However, they forget this and they agree to take backstage to their slides. You need to make sure that you don’t end up doing this.

The first thing that you’ll need to do is to turn off the projector before you begin your speech. You want your audience to have their attention focused on you, not your slides. What this means is that you’ll need to either turn off the projector or you’ll need to display a black slide. This removes a visual distraction and allows your audience to focus on you. Don’t be afraid to turn the projector off (or display another black slide) during your presentation if you want to make sure that your audience is paying very close attention to what you have to tell them.

Movement And Presentations

Once you’ve got the mastery of slides thing taken care of, the next issue that we need to have a discussion about is just exactly what you need to do with that body of yours during the presentation.

The addition of slides to a presentation can have a dramatic impact on just exactly where you can stand and move. In most speaking situations, the projector will be placed on a table in front of you and will be shining on a screen that is located behind you. What this means for you is that a great deal of the space in front of you is now taken up by the light beam coming from the projector and going to the screen.

This is important to understand so that you know where you can go during your presentation. I always think that it is a good idea to move around while delivering a speech because it is a great way to show your audience when you have completed one idea and are now moving on to another idea. However, the addition of a large light beam to your presentation is going to narrow your options here.

I have attended some presentations where the presenter crossed in front of their display multiple times. Each time that they did this, it was rather jarring. All of suddenly they were lit up with bright colors and then just as suddenly they were not as they emerged on the other side of the slides. I’m going to suggest that you decide to never move in front of the screen. Stay on one side of the display and feel free to move around there. By doing this you’ll keep your audience’s attention and not lose it by becoming part of your slides as you move in front of the screen.

What All Of This Means For You

In a modern presentation the use of slides to communicate the benefits of public speaking no matter if they’ve been created with PowerPoint or Keynote is almost a given. However, all too often speakers have not been provided with any training on how to use this powerful tool. The key is to make sure that you end up using your slides and you don’t let them use you!

In order to make sure that you don’t allow your presentation to use you, you’ll need to take control of your speech from the start. What this may mean is starting your speech with the projector off (or displaying a black slide), standing in front of the projector and turning the projector off when you don’t need it to be on. You are also going to have to make a decision on where you’ll want to stand during your presentation because you don’t want to pass in front of your slides while the projector is on.

Slides can provide a speaker with a powerful way to support the message that they are delivering. However, if you are not careful your audience can end up spending their time during your speech simply staring at your slides and not watching (or listening to) you. Use these suggestions to make sure that the next time that you present using slides you control the speech – not your slides!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How long do you think that you should leave your projector off if you turn it off?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I like to give powerful and effective speeches – that’s what the importance of public speaking is all about. The trick to doing this well is to create a speech that is going to be well received by my next audience. When you take a step back and look at what I have to work with, it’s not a lot. Really, it’s mainly words. What this means is that the construction of a good speech starts with the words that you choose and how you go about using them. Ultimately this comes down to mastering the grammar that we use to build our speeches.