Let’s say that you’ve just created the perfect overview of your company’s products or services. Perhaps you delivered the presentation to potential investors or clients. The content is so basic, that you’d like re-use it. Why not display it at a kiosk at the next trade convention? Why not put it on your Web site? This is a viewer-controlled presentation; there is no presenter.
Short bullet points and images are ideal
You kept your text succinct and used lots of images so that your audience would pay attention to you rather than your slides. When delivering your presentation, you explained your points more fully and answered any questions that came up.
Presentations on the Web
Have you ever read the presentations of other companies on the Web? Did you know that you can find PowerPoint presentations at Google by entering filetype:ppt? For example, enter company overview filetype:ppt.
If you read some of these presentations, you’ll notice that many of the slides are vague, unclear, or overly technical. That’s because they don’t work without further explanation. Here is the text from a real slide, slightly changed:
- Market Status
– Fixed Line and Mobile Interest
I’ve no idea what it means. Neither will anyone else.
Expand the text
The basic principle for converting a delivered presentation to a viewer-controlled presentation is to expand the text, tables, and charts so that they are self-explanatory. After all, no one is explaining them. In place of short bulleted text, you need full, or almost full, sentences. Make the connection between topics completely clear. Write out assumptions and conclusions. An alternative is to add narration.
One of the most annoying features of the presentations I read on the Web was the constant use of abbreviations, acronyms, and technical jargon. Instead, write out the abbreviations and include definitions for technical terms.
Animation doesn’t work
Most animation occurs when you click the mouse, but how will your viewers know to click? Having to click to display the next line of text is especially annoying. Automatic, timed animation can work but be sure that it doesn’t go by too quickly. In general, you want to eliminate most animation. You can show a presentation without the animation. Choose Slide Show > Set Up Show and check the Show without animation check box. (2007: Slide Show tab> Set Up group> Set Up Slide Show)
Slide transitions may work fine when the audience is sitting 10 feet away, but up close, two feet from a computer monitor, the same transitions may strain the eyes. It’s better to remove all your transitions before putting the presentation at a kiosk or on a Web site.
Reduce file size
Many of the presentations that I viewed on the Web took a couple of minutes to load, even with my high-speed connection. Even at a convention, you may not have the fastest computer or may be using the hotel’s equipment. To reduce the size of your presentations, use only low-resolution images. To compress images, select an image (which displays the Picture toolbar), and choose Compress Pictures. Choose the All Pictures in Document and Web Screen options. (2007: Picture Tools Format tab> Adjust group> Compress Pictures. Make sure that the Apply to Selected Pictures Only check box is not checked, and click the Options button. Use the Screen option.)
Do some usability testing
As a reality check, find a couple of friends or colleagues and ask them to view the presentation. Don’t add any explanation. Ask them to write down what they understood and what was unclear. Their comments should help you to make the necessary adjustments.