2. Don’t Just Use It: Use It Right!
With appropriate apologies to Nike for paraphrasing their advertising slogan, the fact remains that many people use PowerPoint just because they can, and do not have a plan to make it an effective aid to their work.
The trick here is that PowerPoint should make it easier for you to present information to the audience (judge, jury, arbitrator, client, etc.). It should not be a screen for you to hide behind. If it does not help you present information understandably, you should not be using it at that time, or you should be making better use of it.
3. Keep It Simple!
Too many people try to put too much information on a PowerPoint slide. Remember, the PowerPoint is a graphic presentation to assist you in conveying information, not a book. Generally speaking, the more text you put on a slide, the less likely the audience will read and understand it. If you have a lot of information to convey, use the PowerPoint slide to present bullet points that you talk about and explain. Having the bullet points displayed brings another sense into the information absorption process (think multimedia). Having the bullet points helps the audience understand what you are doing and where you are going. Having nothing but the bullet point pushes the audience toward listening to your explanation of the detail.
Keep only bullet points in your presentation. The bulk of the information you are trying to convey should come directly from you. Image courtesy of morguefile.com.
It also will help you keep your focus on the audience and avoid spending time reading your slides out loud. In addition to keeping it simple, use assertions that you want your audience to remember. You can explain your assertions during the presentation, but keep the takeaway point as a simple bulleted assertion for your audience to see and remember.
4. Lose the Animation!
Too many people use animated slides because they learned how to do it and not because it serves a valid purpose respecting the presentation. Sometimes a bit of animation (such as a call out to emphasize a particular phrase) works well. Having points pop in and out and dance across the display screen will probably create more of a distraction than anything else. Also, there is a greater potential for files not to load or run properly, disrupting your presentation.
5. Try This!
Use PowerPoint in court. It can prove very helpful in providing a displayed outline of an opening statement as well as a closing argument. Because it is so easy to create a PowerPoint presentation and to modify it, it should not get in your way during a trial, and can help you present your case to the court or the jury.