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Do you finish your PowerPoint presentations with a question slide? 

While delivering a full day of PowerPoint training recently, I asked what the key takeaway was from the session. I usually get the same answers: Alignment tools, Grouping and Advanced Image Cropping. This time, I got a new answer! 

At the beginning of the session, one of the attendees told me that she had entered a couple of industry-specific competitions where she had to present a project she had worked on within the organisation. She had to present the project for ten minutes with PowerPoint slides. It was great to have this example to refer to during the training, as she would create her slide deck in the next few weeks.  

I always start my full-day training with slide theory. This covers what you should consider before opening PowerPoint and creating slides. Most people open PowerPoint first and jump straight in. I teach people to consider the audience (the People), the Purpose, and the Place – the Three Pillars of PowerPoint. You would create different slides depending on the answers to these important questions. 

In addition to the Three Pillars, I will discuss finishing your presentation with a call to action, not a question slide. 

So, what’s wrong with the last slide being a questions slide? Well, perhaps nothing. If you get a few easy questions, and you can answer them  

What if no one asks questions? You’re left standing there while the tumbleweed blows by, wondering if you should stay there or sit down! To prevent this, ask someone you know in the audience to ask a question. They’ll likely ask one that other audience members were thinking about, and you’ll probably have an easy one to start with, which may encourage others to ask questions. You could go a step further and get them to ask you a specific question that you have prepared for.  

What if someone asks a question you cannot answer? Do you have a strategy for this? How will you handle it? Make sure you have a plan in place so that you know what you will do; for example, I will make a note of who asked the question and tell them I will respond individually once I have investigated and found an answer. 

What if someone asks a tricky question? One where they deliberately try to derail you or be awkward. You may become flustered. Then your time is up, and you sit down. What will people remember about your presentation? It’s probably the ending! 

A better strategy would be to include a question slide as the second last slide and finish with your summary and call to action. This way, you are in control when you finish, you can finish with the summary and call to action, and people are more likely to remember your message and not the tricky question you couldn’t answer or the tumbleweed! 

A call to action in a corporate environment will be subtle. For example, you’re presenting a staff update on the new performance management process. Your “call to action” could be – I’d like you all to go away and read the other information and come back to me with any questions by Wednesday. This way, staff know what is expected of them, and there is a deadline for when to do the task. You’ll likely get a higher response by finishing this way. 

Finally, if there’s a topic that you don’t want to get bogged down with that isn’t relevant to your presentation, state that upfront. For example, today’s presentation is about X, and we are not here to talk about Y. If any questions come up about Y, you can politely decline to answer them as the topic is not on the agenda! 

If you’re looking for a nice image to go with your questions slide, look no further than PowerPoint’s stock images in Microsoft 365. Stock images have over 10,000 high-quality images ready to put in your presentation! 

Thank you for reading, and I’d love to hear your feedback on these tips. So hit reply and tell me what you think. 

Don’t forget to add us to your address book, and if you would like to know more about bespoke PowerPoint training for your organisation, please book a call

Until next month

Fiona 

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