Learning & Development

Are You Using PowerPoint Effectively in Your Training?

Before you sit down to create a PowerPoint presentation, think about how much of the chosen safety topic you want to cover. In many cases you won’t have time to go over everything in just one presentation. So, make a prioritized list of the key points and narrow your scope as necessary to fit the time you have for the session.

Next, rough up an outline of your training points in the order you want to present them. Then, working from your outline, come up with a few well-chosen objectives for the training session. Three or four are the maximum number that your trainees can reasonably be expected to retain. If your presentation looks like it’s going to run to too many slides but you can’t eliminate any training points, consider breaking the session into two parts and present them on consecutive days or at two weekly safety meetings.

Looking Good

Spend some time making the slides look good. Less is best for PowerPoint slides.

Trainees must be able to read and decipher slides in just a few seconds. You don’t want them focusing on reading while you’re talking; you want their attention on you.

Along with being uncluttered, easy-to-read slides also have to be visually attractive. They have to have impact and attract attention. They don’t have to be fancy or glitzy, although PowerPoint certainly offers lots of features for making really great looking slides.

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The main thing about slides is that they need to tell the story in just a few key words—or even better in a picture or illustration. Remember the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” If you can find a picture or illustration that says it all for the training point, just use the visual without words or with just a brief caption or label.

Here are some other suggestions for creating stimulating slides:

  • Mix it up and use a variety of formats (checklists, definitions, charts, graphs, etc.) rather than just all bullet points.
  • Keep the number of slides to a minimum.
  • Include a review slide about midway through the presentation to summarize key points made up to that point and to provide the opportunity to answer any questions trainees have.
  • Include one or more interactive slides, for example, a short quiz or problem-solving exercise designed to assess whether trainees are absorbing the information presented.

Three Cs

Prepare your notes meticulously, and practice, practice, practice! When you sit down to write, remember the “three Cs” of effective presentations, and be:

  • Clear—Avoid ambiguity and be precise.
  • Concise—Choose your words for maximum impact and keep to the point.
  • Coherent—Express thoughts in a logical order.

Here are more tips for writing effective PowerPoint notes:

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  • Eliminate unnecessary information; stick to the essentials.
  • Share relevant stories about the topic from your own experience.
  • Don’t read points on the screen; trainees can read them quicker than you can say them.
  • Be enthusiastic; let trainees see that you care about what you’re saying and think it’s important.
  • Involve employees as much as you can; for example, ask questions, have a brief discussion about the training point, and ask trainees to talk briefly about their own experiences.
  • Practice your presentation several times to ensure you’re well prepared and can speak freely and naturally, referring to your notes rather than reading word for word.
  • Time your practice runs to ensure you don’t run too long.
  • Prepare a handout to give trainees at the beginning of the session that lists objectives and key points to help them follow your presentation and to give something on which to take notes.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, we look at more ways to best utilize the potential of this popular and powerful software—plus explore a dynamic safety training resource in PowerPoint.

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