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PowerPoint - Are You a Finer Designer?
Test your PowerPoint design savvy
Are you sure your slide presentations are doing the job you want them to do? Could that rapt attention you observe actually be a catatonic reaction to massive overload or boredom? Take this test to assess your skills at reaching and motivating your audience.
Cheat Sheet: This quiz awards points for answers; and not surprisingly, the best answer gets the most points. But the real point of this exercise is to help you create effective slide presentations. With that in mind, feel free to cheat. If you don't get the answer right the first time, read the other answers (especially the best answer) to find tips that will help you become a "finer designer."
1. When I start to design my slide presentation, I first think about:
a. My objective for doing the presentation.
b. My abysmal lack of experience with PowerPoint software.
c. The needs of the audience.
d. All of the above.
2. I adhere to the following guideline(s) when developing my slides:
a. I use a consistent look for each slide.
b. I use simple headings that guide my audience through the presentation.
c. I limit the text on my slides to three or four main points.
d. I use bullets rather than paragraphs to convey information
e. All of the above.
3. My audience knows I've considered their needs because:
a. I have included a "What's In It For You" slide in my presentation delineating the personal benefits they will receive from my presentation.
b. I've included summary slides at the end of each major topic to recapitulate the most useful information they can take from the presentation.
c. I've included a question-and-answer session at the end of my presentation.
d. I have allotted a sufficient amount of time for that question-and-answer session to be held.
e. All of the above.
4. When I have a lot of information to convey:
a. I use a detailed chart or graph.
b. I import an article or other document to the slide to support my main point.
c. I reduce the font size to make the information fit on the slide.
d. I use several slides, breaking up the information into logical chunks and using subheadings to communicate the fact that I am continuing the original discussion thread.
5. To help my audience view my slides easily, I should:
a. Use a sans serif font, such as Arial or Helvetica.
b. Make the font as large as possible, at least 36 points, for readability.
c. Allow plenty of white space.
d. All of the above.
6. I help my audience understand my presentation by:
a. Reading the slides out loud as I present them.
b. Skipping over slides whose content isn't needed (especially if I'm running out of time).
c. Providing handouts of the slide content before the presentation.
d. All of the above.
Question 1 - All Things Considered
- a, 3 points - Thinking about your objective is a reason-able place to start your presentation planning. It gives you a clear focus for what you want to achieve with your presentation; but it doesn't take into account what the needs of your audience might be. If you want them to listen, be motivated to action, and respect your contribution to their knowledge, you need to start thinking about their needs the minute you contemplate developing a presentation. The best answer is "d."
- b, 0 points - You wouldn't be the first, but we all have to start somewhere. You don't need all the bells and whistles of PowerPoint to make an effective presentation. In fact, fancy presentation tricks can actually detract from your message if you're not careful. Concentrate on the needs of your audience and your objective for doing the presentation in the first place, and let that guide your efforts. (A PowerPoint for Dummies book couldn't hurt.) The best answer is "d."
- c, 4 points - Very few presenters start by considering their audience first, but doing so will ensure the listeners have a vested interest in paying attention to your message. When you start by pondering why this information is important to your audience, you put yourself in their seats and can start to structure your presentation to meet their needs (as well as yours). The best answer is "d."
- d, 5 points - Congratulations, you get full credit for thinking about the total package - your need to convey information, the needs of your audience (which may be different), and your forthright and honest assessment of your software skills. Grab a PowerPoint for Dummies book and start designing.
Question 2 - A Consistent Look
- a, 3 points - A consistent look for all the slides in your presentation is a gift to your audience. It enables them to focus on the message rather than the slide layout. Most slide presentation programs offer templates for establishing the look of your slides so that you can concentrate on developing the message. But this is just one of the guidelines you should embrace. The best answer is "e."
- b, 3 points - Absolutely use simple, consistent headings to guide your audience through the presentation. They are powerful indicators to your audience of where you are in the presentation and how the presentation is structured for comprehension. By using headings, you begin the process of having a consistent look to your slides (a good rule to follow), but there is more you can do. The best answer is "e."
- c, 3 points - This makes you a candidate for sainthood. One of the most egregious PowerPoint errors is cramming too much information onto each slide. When you do this, you upset the balance between your needs and the needs of your audience. Limit the text on your slides and apply the other guidelines listed, and you will be on the way to creating a memorable presentation. The best answer is "e."
- d, 3 points - Bullets chunk information into digestible bites. They are easier to read than paragraphed text, and they have the added advantage of helping you to distill your key points to a few powerful words. You get some credit for selecting this guideline, but adopting the other guidelines as well would complete the package. The best answer is "e."
- e, 5 points - If word gets out that you are incorporating all these guidelines into your presentations, it will be standing room only. You clearly understand the finer points of slide design for painless presentation.
Question 3 - What's In It For Them?
- a, 3 points - Generally, presenters don't think to provide a "What's In It for You" slide. Some just don't think about the audience's needs at all. Others, who do consider their audience, find this a difficult slide to develop. You can't just say, "you need to hear this because it is important." You have to develop at least two solid, personal reasons why the information is important to them. Perhaps it enables them to achieve some specific personal goal or to directly benefit in some way from the information. That is what needs to go on this slide. Find it, and you'll be taking a great first step in the right direction. The best answer is "e."
- b, 3 points - Summary slides are very effective at helping your audience sift through the information provided to locate the "pearls of wisdom." They can also help you structure your presentation effectively in the design stage, focusing your efforts on the most important material to convey. They do not, however, complete your presentation. The best answer is "e."
- c, 3 points - A question-and-answer session enables you to clarify any misconceptions that might have occurred as a result of your presentation. Your intentions are good, but you need to take it a bit further. The best answer is "e."
- d, 4.5 points - You get almost full credit for this answer even though the best answer is "e." If you can actually plan and deliver a slide presentation that allows a reasonable amount of time for a question-and-answer session, you are moving into the elite category of designers. The ability to fulfill this audience need despite the allure of adding more of your treasured, off-the-cuff wisdom to your presentation is inspiring, laudable and rare.
- e, 5 points - Full points for balancing your needs and the audience's needs.
Question 4 - Keep Slides Simple
- a, 0 points - Ah, the lure of charts and graphs. Nothing induces total-brain paralysis as quickly as a minutely detailed bar chart or a four-color graph with indistinguishable annotations. They have an immediate and enduring eyes-glazed-over effect on your audience. Can you say "handout"? The best answer is "d."
- b, 0 points - Densely packed articles and other literature displayed for your audience create the same effect as charts and graphs (see "a" above). Because there is absolutely no possibility of reading any of the data on screen, you also run the risk of having your audience exit en masse (if not physically, at least mentally). If you want your audience to read a document, send it to them before the presentation. If that's not practical use the slide to present - in bulleted form - a few pertinent points from the article that they should absorb. The best answer is "d."
- c, 0 points - If there were a way to award negative points for this answer, you would have earned them. Reducing the size of the font on a slide forces your audience to consider getting an eye exam. It works for you (you get your message onto the slide), but you might want to forgo handing out those evaluation forms at the end of the presentation. The best answer is "d."
- d, 5 points - Full points for thinking about the needs of your audience as well as your own needs. You give your audience credit for not losing the thread of the presentation just because it continues on another slide or two.
Question 5 - Make It Legible
- a, 3 points - Partial credit for you. Think of slides as road signs - the cleaner the text, the easier it is to read them. A sans serif font (one without little squiggly extenders on the letters) is easier to read at a distance. The best answer is "d."
- b, 3 points - Is bigger better? Absolutely! Enlarging the font size makes it more readable from the back of the room, but there's a lot more you can do to help your audience see the presentation. The best answer is "d."
- c, 3 points - Having plenty of white space around the text makes the slide easier to read, but you need to add this technique to the others mentioned above. The best answer is "d."
- d, 5 points - Full points for putting yourself in the audience and experiencing your presentation from their perspective. Mix plenty of white space with a nice, large, sans serif font and your audience won't require binoculars.
Question 6 - Be Clear, Not Cruel
- a, 0 points - On the audience annoyance meter, reading your slides out loud pushes the needle off the dial. Adults, understandably, object to having things read to them, especially when the words are right in front of their eyes. It smacks of condescension, it negates the need for displaying the written word at all, and it interferes with your audience's comprehension as they read the slide silently. The best answer is "c."
- b, 0 points - This is just about as annoying to the audience as reading the slides. If you find yourself skipping over slides in your presentation, think design flaw. You are either trying to cram too much content into too little time, or you have included content that is not truly relevant to the presentation. In either case, flipping rapidly through those slides will make your audience queasy. They won't thank you for that. The best answer is "c."
- c, 5 points - Excellent work. You can significantly improve audience comprehension by distributing hand-outs of your slides to the audience prior to your presentation. The audience then has access to your slide con-tent (even if they have a six-foot version of it in their line of sight). They can also jot notes in the margins.
- d, 1 point - It may sound like a solid plan, but your audience doesn't want all of the above. The don't want to be read to ("a"), and they can be seriously distracted if you flip through unnecessary slides ("b"). They do, how-ever, appreciate the handout. So, "c" is your best answer.
|29.5-30||Congratulations! You are a "finer designer." Spread the word and save the business world!|
|29-25||You have a sensitive soul, and audiences appreciate that. A little tweaking of your presentations, and you'll he a "finer designer" candidate.|
|24.5-20||It's not just about you. Remember when your mother told you that? Think more about your audience and watch their interest level rise.|
|Below 20||Lock the exits! It's the only way they'll stay put.|