Some guy in a suit is yawning, another guy in the back is asleep, a woman in the front is reading notes, another looks at her nails and everyone else is checking their phone.

And then there’s you, standing at the front of the room, nervous and starting to sweat, trying to hang on to their attention.

You’re feeling frustrated and don’t know whether you should speed up your presentation or slow it down. Maybe you need to add a little humour? You could tell a few jokes, but maybe the topic of your presentation can’t be made light of.

Is it you? Is it your subject matter? Or is it your PowerPoint? You rack your brain thinking about what could you have done differently to be more effective?

All this to say, if it’s your delivery, well that’s an issue for another blog. If it’s your subject matter, there’s not much you can do about that. But if it’s your PowerPoint presentation, I can help.

In fact, I can provide you with two killer tips for powerful PowerPoint presentations.

All you have to do is follow these two simple rules when you create and design your material and your PowerPoint presentations will not only look better, your audience will be more interested and more engaged.

It’s an easy rule of thumb: One idea, one slide, two minutes.  It’s the most basic formula. 1+1=2. Simple to remember, easier to use. The reason for this is also simple. When you create content heavy slides with more than one idea per slide, your audience is unable to determine what message you want to deliver. Your slide is high in noise and low in message.

Your audience is thinking to themselves, “And the point is…?”.  The result: Yawning and nail inspection.

Ideally, you need to design your presentation so that you spend approximately two to three minutes per slide. Yes, that means you must know your subject matter well. Any more than three minutes and your audience will get bored and end up losing interest in your presentation.

I can’t count the number of times I have seen PowerPoint slides with far too many words. Oh yes, I can count. More than 36 words per slide is too many.

The slides are there to support your comments, to act as reinforcement and to keep you on track with your presentation; they are not there to chronicle your entire speech. No, they don’t replace the index cards of the past.

I know we all hate presenting, but If you’re reading this it means your career is dependent on giving presentations at some level – so you’re going to have to get over it. I digress, back to the presentation and the number of words…

There are various rules for the number of words per slide but one of the easiest to remember is 6 x 6. That means six bullets each with six words for a total of 36 words. Some will even say 5 x 5. You can decide which makes the most sense to you. So, another simple formula: 6×6=36 or 5×5=25.

If you must have a slide with more than 36 words, take a few well chosen words from that slide and consider putting additional information in the Appendix that you leave behind. The audience can read about it more in depth at their own convenience and without yawning in your face.

These two rules are very simple, but rarely will you find anyone who follows them. But as I always say, there are three types of people in this world, those who can count and those who can’t.