How to do PowerPoint presentations in Germany

In business life in Germany often no week passes without a presentation with PowerPoint. Whether it’s a conference, a customer presentation, a meeting or a web meeting, Microsoft’s application is the most widely used software for this task in Germany. How to do PowerPoint presentations in Germany: What do you have to watch out for?

PowerPoint presentations in Germany

If you are a foreigner starting an apprenticeship, a study or a job in Germany or if you have German customers, you will probably have to give a lecture or a presentation sooner or later. We will give you some tips on how to give PowerPoint presentations in Germany.

Of course, there are differences whether you are presenting in science, sales, public service or school. Nevertheless, there are some basic tips that will help in almost all cases.

When preparing a PowerPoint presentation for a German audience, it’s crucial to understand the cultural nuances that may influence how your content is received. German culture tends to value precision, clarity, and thoroughness. Therefore, presentations are often expected to be detailed and well-structured, with a clear focus on facts and data. Avoiding unnecessary embellishments or overly complex language can help ensure your message is understood as intended.

How to do PowerPoint presentations in Germany
The PowerPoint user interface. Photo by Life-in-Germany.de. capture_001_04022022_202839

In addition to the content itself, the delivery of your presentation can also be influenced by cultural norms. Generally, German presentations lean towards the formal side, with a focus on professionalism and respect for the audience’s time. This doesn’t mean that there’s no room for humor or personal anecdotes, but these should be used sparingly and appropriately. It’s also important to remember that punctuality is highly valued in German culture, so ensure your presentation starts and ends on time.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that directness is often appreciated in German business communication. This means that your presentation should clearly state its purpose, main points, and conclusions. Avoiding ambiguity and being straightforward with your information can help you connect with your audience and convey your message effectively. Remember, understanding these cultural nuances can make a significant difference in the success of your presentation.

Leveraging Graphics and Visualizations in German Presentations

The use of graphics and visualizations in presentations is a powerful tool to enhance understanding and engagement, especially when dealing with complex data or concepts. In the context of German presentations, where precision and clarity are highly valued, effective use of these elements can significantly elevate your presentation.

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Firstly, it’s important to ensure that any graphics or visualizations used are directly relevant to the content of your presentation. They should serve to illustrate or clarify the points you’re making, rather than simply being decorative. For instance, a well-designed chart or graph can provide a clear visual representation of data that might be difficult to understand in text form. Similarly, infographics can be used to break down complex processes or concepts into easily digestible segments.

Secondly, simplicity and clarity should be your guiding principles when designing these visual elements. Avoid overly complicated designs or too many colors, as these can be distracting and make your graphics harder to understand. Remember, the goal is to aid comprehension, not to confuse your audience.

A study by the Presentation Company revealed that professionals spend an average of 12 hours preparing for a single PowerPoint presentation, highlighting its significance in business communication.

Finally, always provide clear explanations for your graphics and visualizations. Don’t assume that your audience will immediately understand what they’re seeing. Take the time to explain what each graphic represents and how it relates to the point you’re making. This will ensure that your audience can follow along and fully grasp the significance of the visual aids you’re using.

Quick facts about PowerPoint

  1. What is PowerPoint?

    PowerPoint is a computer program that can be used to create presentations. The program comes from Microsoft and is pre-installed on many laptops – so there is no need to buy it additionally. The software makes it quite easy to create presentations, especially if you are already familiar with Word or Excel.

  2. Is PowerPoint similar to Word or Excel?

    With Word you create texts, with Excel tables and in PowerPoint you can present these texts and tables as well as pictures and videos. The tasks are different – but many functions are the same in both programs.

  3. What are presentations?

    Presentations are usually short compilations of images, videos, texts and other elements for a mostly oral presentation. Presentations are usually created with special software (for example Microsoft PowerPoint).

  4. Is PowerPoint widely used?

    Yes, PowerPoint is very common. In business as well as in academia and public administration, PowerPoint is used almost universally. The PowerPoint alternatives are used much less, although they are also very powerful.

  5. Who needs PowerPoint?

    PowerPoint should be mastered by anyone who wants to work in middle or upper management, who creates a lot of their own ideas and analyses and wants to share them with others. Even if you have German customers or want to win them, you can use PowerPoint. PowerPoint is also often used in studies, training and school.

How to do PowerPoint presentations in Germany

Guide to creating a good presentation with PowerPoint

  1. Think about the topic

    Sit down and think carefully about what your topic is, where it is distinct from others, and what you absolutely need to say. Make a mind map on a large sheet of paper.

  2. Create an outline

    Create a clear outline of your presentation. Usually, presentations are divided into an introduction, a main part and a conclusion. In the main body, you will include your main information about the topic. You will often need to divide the main body into smaller thematic sections.

  3. Set your time limit

    For almost all PowerPoint presentations there are predefined time limits, for example for a presentation or for a business meeting. Remember that you speak for about three minutes per slide. Divide your net time by three and you’ll get an idea of how many slides you have available.

  4. Fill your slides

    Now, step by step, fill in the content on your slides. Start with your most important content, you can add slides for the introduction and for the conclusion later, don’t dwell on it. Remember that there should only be a few words/phrases per slide. If you reach about 15 words per slide that’s perfect. Full sentences are not common for the most part.

  5. Talk through once aloud

    Once you have created your slides in the first draft, talk through the whole thing out loud. Correct what you don’t like and record yourself again using your smartphone. Keep an eye on the clock and make sure you stay on time.

  6. Rehearsal

    Present the whole thing live or via video to a trusted person and ask for honest feedback after your presentation. Work it in if necessary. Have your trusted friend proofread your presentation as well: Most of the time, four eyes are better than two.

  7. Save and print

    Save your presentation in different formats – not only in different PowerPoint versions, but also as PDF. This way you are always on the right side in case of technical problems. And: Print out a copy of your presentation. If the technology fails completely, you must at least be able to present with the help of your printout.

How to do PowerPoint presentations in Germany: Additional tips in detail

Structure your content in the presentation

As soon as you want to work on the presentation, your first step should be to create a clear structure of your presentation: What content should go in and in what order? An example of such an order could be this:

  • Greeting / welcome slide (with your name on it)
  • Introduction as speaker (about yourself)
  • Naming the topic (and maybe saying what you are not going to cover)
  • Aspect 1 of the content of your topic
  • Content aspect 2 of your topic
  • Maybe a table, diagram or similar on aspect 2
  • Aspect 3 of the content of your topic
  • Conclusions and recommendations for action, if any
  • Slide with the request for a question and answer session
  • Conclusion slide (with your name and contact details)
  • Especially if you are not a native speaker of German, this content structuring will also help you with your linguistic implementation.

Fade in content step by step

One of the great features and benefits of PowerPoint is that you can display information step by step on your slides: For example, you can show several words one after the other or certain groups of words one after the other.

How to do PowerPoint presentations in Germany: Before you give your presentation to a large audience you should talk it through with people you know.

So you don’t have to show the whole page at once. The step-by-step fade-in has a clear advantage: Your audience can focus on specific words or word groups and keep their thoughts close to what you are saying.

It would therefore often be a big mistake if you completely fade in all information of a page directly. Therefore, use animations to fade in your information step by step on a slide and thus guide your audience through your content.

Make your presentation short and simple

My first recommendation for a good PowerPoint presentation is this: Don’t make the presentation unnecessarily complicated – not in content and not in design. It is better to keep everything short and simple. No viewer likes an overstuffed presentation with so much info that you can’t make out or understand the gist.

pensive caucasian businessman working online bece
Despite the emergence of various PowerPoint alternatives, PowerPoint remains the most widely used presentation software, holding a market share of approximately 95% as of 2021.

In most cases, it is best to present only a little information. Rather explain important info additionally verbally and instead explain more verbally. Most presentations and speeches live from the speaker – and not from what is written in a presentation. So make the presentation part of your choreography and keep it short and sweet.

One thing is clear: the more text you write in your presentation, the more likely it is that a mistake will creep in. Short text usually means fewer mistakes.

Time limits of a presentation with PowerPoint

You should speak for about three minutes per PowerPoint slide. It can be more, but rarely less. Avoid clicking quickly through your slides – in most cases, you want the audience to hear your spoken messages, not just read them on the wall.

Less animations are better

Animations, tables and images are a visual enrichment in presentations. In many cases they are mandatory and sometimes they make longer information sections entertaining and loosen up your content. However, you should not overdo it with these elements.

Especially animations like flying in photos and texts are not the essential part of your presentation and they should not distract from the content. A good animation fits well into your choreography in its design and duration and does not distract the audience from the core of your content.

Cool: Place several slides in a row, create transitions between the slides and save the presentation as a video: You’ve produced a simple video with PowerPoint. Screenshot: Life-in-Germany.de. Videos-mit-PowerPoint-Erstellen

Diagrams and similar content should always support what you are saying and be closely related to it, they should never contradict it visually or in terms of content, and they should never distract from your spoken word.

How to do PowerPoint presentations in regard to fonts

In a good presentation, it should be sufficient to use only one font (unless you are in the advertising industry or a designer and are an expert in this field). The background of this tip is that different fonts require more attention from the audience and thus distract from the essence of your presentation. So unless you sell fonts or are a designer yourself, you should only use one or at most two fonts in your designs.

You should also not change the size of the font you use endlessly. It is best to offer your content in two or at most three different sizes. For example, set a headline size of 24 points and a text size of 16 points from the start. Then keep that the same.

Write only 15 words per slide

Little is worse for listeners than overstuffed presentations. Don’t squeeze in so much text when you create it that it’s hard to keep up with reading. A good slide can get by with a maximum of 15 words.

These 15 words are an empirical value for an easily understandable unit of information. As a general rule, the less information you put on the slides, the better. As a rule, you don’t have to use complete sentences or groups of words – single keywords are sufficient.

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a woman reflecting on how to do PowerPoint presentations
Structurizing the content is key to any successful PowerPoint presentation.

Always assume that not all audience members are sitting in the front row and that there are also people who have to follow your presentation from a distance. The less text you put on a page, the larger the words you can write and thus improve the user experience.

Of course, in addition to text, you can also include a photo or video, for example. But remember not to overdo it: usually one photo or animation per page should be enough. Exceptions can of course be made in technical or scientific areas.

Do not show all slides all the time

If you want to show your presentation often to different audiences, then you should adapt the presentation to the respective audience. Length, texts, design: All this varies depending on the presentation.

If you adapt your presentation accordingly, you can use the interesting function “Hide slides”. These pages will no longer be displayed during the presentation, but the slides themselves will remain in your presentation. This way you always keep an up-to-date version of your file and don’t lose the overview so fast.

Extra slides for explanations

In most presentations, the audience will ask questions. It can be helpful if you have a few explanatory slides up your sleeve.

You can put a few extra pages behind your closing slide. They will not be shown in the main presentation, but you can bring them out if there are questions. For example, you can prepare photos, tables, details, or additions that you expect questions to arise about.

How to do PowerPoint presentations: Q&A Sessions

Question and Answer (Q&A) sessions are a common final part of presentations in Germany, providing an opportunity for the audience to engage with the presenter and delve deeper into the topic. Preparing for these sessions is just as important as preparing for the presentation itself.

Firstly, anticipate the questions that might arise from your presentation. Think about the areas of your topic that might need further clarification or could spark interest or debate. Prepare concise, clear responses to these potential questions. This doesn’t mean you should script every answer, but having a clear understanding of your topic will allow you to respond confidently and accurately.

a person wondering How to do PowerPoint presentations
In the context of presentations, the importance of Question and Answer (Q&A) sessions cannot be overstated. According to a study by the National Communication Association, presenters who engage in Q&A sessions are perceived as more credible and competent by their audience.

Secondly, practice active listening during the Q&A session. When a question is asked, take a moment to understand it fully before responding. If necessary, repeat the question to ensure you’ve understood it correctly. This shows respect for the questioner and ensures you’re providing a relevant response.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know the answer to a question. Honesty is highly valued in German business culture. If you’re unsure, it’s better to say so and offer to follow up with the information later, rather than providing an inaccurate or incomplete answer. Remember, a successful Q&A session can leave a lasting positive impression, so it’s worth investing time in preparation.

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