to Deliver Your Message
By Roman H. Kepczyk, CPA, CITP
Microsoft PowerPoint is an
incredibly powerful presentation tool to help you visualize and deliver
virtually any message. Many firms use it to improve training, market
firm information, and deliver engagement proposals and results. But
like any tool, it can be improperly used, so it is important that you
are aware of basic guidelines to ensure success before you deliver your
presentation. This article will help you focus on how to organize your
message, pick a theme, and utilize fonts to maximize your usage of PowerPoint.
Organizing Your Message
When delivering any message, whether it is for marketing or training,
we recommend you begin by writing your conclusion, which focuses on
purpose. In your mind, you must ask yourself why you are building this
presentation; is it to persuade, to sell, to motivate, or to teach.
This focus, provides the slant you want to deliver to the
audience. All slides and information you present should have a direct
bearing on what you are trying to translate to your viewers. The next
step is to build your outline so that every item leads up to supporting
your conclusion, which means you must have extensive knowledge of the
information you are presenting. PowerPoint has an Outline view that
makes it very easy to type in your headings and supporting bullet points.
In general, headings and bullets should be a single line whenever possible,
so as to not clutter up the slide and to allow the presenter to give
information without looking like they are reading their slides.
Picking a Theme
PowerPoint provides many pre-set themes and layouts under the Format,
Design Template tab that are a good place to give you an idea of the
applications capabilities. When developing a series of programs,
it is important that you have consistency in a theme. Many firms develop
their own standardized templates that utilize the firms colors,
fonts, and logo, to tie into their letterhead and web site. This template,
along with all other PowerPoint presentations developed utilizing it,
should be saved on the network to allow others to reuse the information.
Importance of Fonts
Often times, people developing PowerPoint presentations utilize the
fonts, which in most cases is Times New Roman. We recommend you customize
the fonts to match that used by your firm or to make a stronger impact
necessary. Fonts can be changed on the template by going to View, Master,
Slide Master, and selecting the heading or text body and picking another
font. Please keep in mind that typing in all caps yells
a message, so it should be used sparingly as well as mixing different
fonts or sizes of fonts, which could make the presentation look like
it was slapped together. Also, simpler fonts such as Arial
or Universal are easier on the eyes and much clearer to read from a
distance. Busy fonts with lots of swirls or scripts, may cause the reader
to have to re-read the message, so they should only be used in headings
and for additional emphasis on a point or quote.
A Word About Color
We are all aware that color has an impact on us and it is important
that your theme portray the right image for the topic to be presented.
In Tom and Rich Mucciolos book: Purpose, Movement, Color, they
listed the following moods that colors represent, which can be used
as a guide to help you develop your themes:
- Blue: is seen as conservative,
loyal and secure while maintaining
credibility, and has been shown to reduce blood pressure and create
When in doubt, the authors say use blue!
- Red: can mean danger or
provoke emotions of passion or competition, so it
is good for marketing or sales events. The authors recommend that
stick to darker shades such as maroon or burgundy.
- Green: is for go, ready,
growth or money, which is probably why it is so
popular with CPA firms. The authors stated that it is good for group
discussions and to initiate feedback on issues.
- Yellow: is good as an
accent color as it is associated with hope for the
future, happiness, and considered both stimulating and attractive.
- Black: as a background
indicates finality on information that has already
happened and is unlikely to change. Accountants can use this sparingly
present financial statement information.
Every good presentation begins with a thorough understanding of
being presented, as well as practicing delivery over and over again
can be done flawlessly. In addition, the impact of color, fonts and
sends a message to the audience that helps set the mood, so it is imperative
that you maximize these options to ensure you get your message across.