Computer-based presentations have become the norm in business and academics. They can help the speaker plan the presentation more effectively. Speeches backed up by computer slideshows or graphics can also create a more dynamic presentation. But when the presentation software is not used well, as when a speaker uses inappropriate graphics or when he has too much data in the presentation, it can lose steam and the audience's attention. As with most tools, use computer-based presentation software sparingly to enhance your presentation, not detract from it.
A Dynamic Experience
The goal of computer-based presentations is to create a dynamic experience for the audience. A presenter with a top-notch computer and software can easily incorporate film, audio, professional-quality charts and images into the presentation. These elements should aid the audience's understanding of the topic, and help them engage with and remember the material more effectively. Quality presentation software pulls together all of these elements with an attractive background. If the presentation is well designed and factual, the visuals and background can improve the presenter's credibility with the audience.
Efficient Planning and Organization
A clear advantage of computer-generated presentations is that presenters must plan the speech and program in advance. He must organize the slides and create the text as well as add the visual elements, such as charts and graphics. Because of this, computer-based presentations are easier to follow than traditional presentations that are memorized or use notes. The ordering of the slides on the presentation software also encourages the speaker to remain topic-focused because they keep him on track.
Poorly Crafted Presentations
Poorly crafted computer presentations with inappropriate graphics or badly formatted slideshows can have a devastating affect on listeners and presenters. Slides with too much data or text may distract the audience from the presentation. Slides that contain invalid data, errors or typos do little to underscore the integrity or trustworthiness of the speaker. A presenter should ask for input on a trial run of his presentation from peers or colleagues who can provide valid and honest feedback.
Malfunctioning Computer Presentations
Almost every professional who uses computers to create presentations has had a computer or the presentation file malfunction during the event. Only accomplished speakers can recover easily from an error of this kind. Some presenters become embarrassed and flustered and never fully regain their composure during the remainder of the presentation. As a result they appear to be less professional and reliable to the audience. Speakers must have backup files, notes and slideshow handouts ready in the event a malfunction occurs.
Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.