Death by PowerPoint: How to Improve Your PowerPoint Presentations
The audience wriggled, one person’s head dropped; I smiled as he woke up. The group looked bored and ready to walk out. I certainly wanted to. Business PowerPoint presentations can be good, but they need to be done well. This wasn’t and now we were in the advanced stages of “death by PowerPoint”. The speaker’s sole objective seemed to be showing off his Microsoft PowerPoint abilities, rather than presenting to us.
How many presentations have you sat through where you wished the speaker knew how to give a business presentation? PowerPoint is not normally as electrifying as the picture on the left!
Improving your business PowerPoint presentations
If you really need to use PowerPoint to help the audience (not you), here are nine tips to make sure you don’t cause death by PowerPoint.
- Don’t read from the slide. If you read from the slide you are adding no value. What’s more people read more quickly than you speak. At the very least, discuss issues which the slides is a summary of.
- Don’t fill the slide with words. Use the slide to emphasise the key point you’re putting over at that time, not justify it. Your talking explains and justifies – the slide is a summary.
- What’s the point? Have a clear point to each slide you use (and only one). Take everything off of the slide that doesn’t support that point and then ask yourself – is this slide now worthwhile?
- Special effects: Don’t use those wonderful bouncy, whizzy entrances and exits, specially the ones with starbursts – they simply detract from your message.
- Builds: You can set your slides to layer new bit upon new bit. DON’T. If your slide is so complex that it needs several “builds”, make it simpler. The builds will end up confusing you (and the audience). How many speakers have you watched talk about a slide and then press the button several times to step through the builds? They had lost their place, and were on the way to losing their nerves.
- Minimize fonts and colours. Each change of font size, font type or font colour is a distraction. Ideally don’t have more than 3 on a slide and then keep consistency throughout your slides. More than that is a distraction you don’t want.
- Use photos, not clip-art. One of the points of a visual stimulus is to stimulate. So use really bold images and stimulate the audience.
- Cool backgrounds? You can really add value by showing your fantastic artwork in the background? Err, no. A simple picture yes, complex background – NO
- Giant tables and flowcharts: If you think you need a laser pointer to explain them – THEY ARE TOO COMPLEX and shouldn’t be used.
3 final tips to improve your PowerPoint presentations
- Practice your PowerPoint presentations first, several times without an audience.
- Arrive early and check the equipment. See who will be using it first and know how to make a smooth handover.
- Check your slides are legible to all in the room. If not, change them or don’t use them.
What PowerPoint presentations have you had to endure and how would you like them improved?
Jon Baker is a business coach specialising in helping professionals grow from 5 to 50 employees, in demand speaker and sales trainer. In the last five years Jon has coached hundreds of Business owners. Whilst his client list does include blue chip companies, his core speciality is the SME sector where he regularly helps owners to grow their business by 63% and more.
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