Thomas Krafft is a Presentation Specialist and Trainer that teaches people and organizations what it takes to plan and deliver presentations that bring tangible results. He is also a Keynote Speaker and speaks to leaders, educators, and salespeople about how they sometimes unintentionally make their audiences suffer and experience what we call in the presentation world "Death by PowerPoint". Additionally, Thomas is a fellow podcaster. He is co-host of the extremely popular in the presentation world The Presentation Boss Podcast.

In this episode, we talk about PowerPoint and how to use it better, share valuable tips and techniques to improve your presentation skills and design, and discuss how to build slides that bring results and avoid the “Death by PowerPoint”.

How he ended up in the presentation industry

Thomas has a background in aviation. Even back then, he had been speaking a lot, and from the very beginning, he thought that there must be a better way of doing things, especially about PowerPoint.

He met Kate Norris, the other host of The Presentation Boss Podcast and his current business partner, six years ago. Coming from aviation and data engineering – they knew they had something to offer and worked together. They teach technically brilliant people, businesses, and corporations how to plan, design and deliver their best presentations.

You do not have to be a designer to build stunning slides

According to Thomas, we aren’t generally looking for aesthetically attractive presentations. If you have a high stakes presentation, it can be a goal to make it stunning, but generally, it is not.

What to aim for is not necessarily stunning slides, but simply not distracting slides. Your slides need to support the message and the presenter in what they are trying to achieve.

Presentation Design obeys different rules

Sometimes even an experienced designer says “Wow, I didn’t know it was not that easy”. Presentation Design has its specifics, and they are very different from web design, for example.

In many ways, Presentation Design has the exact opposite of all the design rules used for print media or web design. Even more, Presentation Design is the only one that is not creating a standalone item – you have somebody presenting it.

Three things to know about creating top-level slides

Going to the basics – you should not create presentations that distract from the message. Simplicity is beautiful. The method that Thomas teaches in his work is “plan, design, deliver”.

The first step should always be to plan. It is crucial to know how to plan and identify in front of who you are presenting. It is the big first step so that the PowerPoint ends up audience-centric.

Design is the middle step, and it is where PowerPoint lives. Do everything to avoid the wall of text because when people read the slide, they are not listening to you. When you are putting together your presentation, assess what you can say and what needs to be displayed. Check what you can remove from the slide without losing the context.

Simplifying your slides is not that easy to do because, at some point, you have to throw away some good stuff. But think about the result – only your best content is left.

Then, remove the overwhelm – have one idea at a time. As a presenter, you want to know and control exactly where your audience is – what they are looking at or thinking about.

When you put too much information together, you might not know where they are, and they could be reading ahead of you. The solution is to split ideas up and have one at a time. Alternatively, use animation to bring up the next step, level, or data point.

Quick tips and tricks that every business person can apply

First, make sure your slide screen is 16:9. This way, you can utilize more space on any modern screen like mobile phones successfully.

Second, go for a dark background. Not black, as the human eye can be strained by true black, but any darker colour. To stay on brand – ask your company’s brand department to supply you with the brand colours or templates to use. Use one of the darker brand colours as background.

The latest PowerPoint innovations

PowerPoint is developing rapidly in the last few years, and there are a few features that we recommend you try out.

A quick to apply idea is to go to the Insert tab and click the Icons button and explore. There’s a lot of insertable stock behind it. Microsoft has bought licensing for various images, icons, illustrations, even cutout people and videos. You can freely modify most of them without losing quality because you have their SVGs.

Then, explore the Morph function. From slide to slide, the Morph animation can be very eye-catching and not intrusive. It can be of help to illustrate your story or steps smoother.

In review

It was a great pleasure chatting with Thomas, and all his ideas for sharpening your presentation abilities and design are invaluable. You can now go ahead and try them yourself and let us know in the comments what was the best takeaway from this episode for you!

P.S. Make sure you explore the Icons button and the highly appealing Morph function in PowerPoint more.

Resources

You can connect with Thomas on his personal LinkedIn or visit The Presentation Boss Podcast.

Listen to the full episode!