Death By PowerPoint
Ahh PowerPoint, how I loathe you! You know how it goes, the first few general housekeeping slides are bearable… introduction, objectives, what we’re going to cover in this presentation…Ok fair enough. Then comes the inevitable… a never ending onslaught of Times New Roman, point 9 text, with the occasional dated clip art image thrown in for good measure…You switch off, look around the room and see you’re not the only one struggling to suppress yawn after yawn in front of the Director, you can almost hear most of the others thinking… hmm, what am I going to have for dinner tonight……what’s going on this weekend?
As professional communicators it is not only up to us to deliver impactful and effective presentations of our own, but to educate others in to doing so as well. Brutal honesty is required here, one or two ego’s may be damaged, and plucking up the courage to tell a senior leader…”I’m sorry, but you were completely wasting your time, nobody was listening in there, let me help you” may be daunting, but its needed.
One of the biggest factors that contribute to a poor presentation is the design of the slide deck itself (individual presentation skills is a whole other blog). Many basic mistakes are made that can easily be rectified that would instantly make a presentation more appealing, and provide some assurance for the least confident of presenters.
So here goes, an instant PowerPoint improvement guide:
1. Only include what is relevant to that audience and ditch everything else, trust me – they don’t care. If you have an order of importance in your slides, start again, it should all be important and relevant.
2. Pictures are more memorable than words – use them as much as possible and reinforce your point with them instead of describing it with text. Use your own notes to describe what’s going on, nobody wants to hear you reading bullet points from a slide deck.
3. Use white space – it signals elegance and clarity and paradoxically it grabs peoples attention.
4. Repetition – reuse of the same or similar elements in a design to create a sense of unity, cohesiveness and consistency. At its most simple this could involve using a standard template or repeating a logo or other motif on every slide.
5. Alignment – ensuring that nothing in your slide looks like it’s been placed there randomly.
6. Contrast – It’s what we notice in a design, it’s what gives a design its energy. It’s a powerful design principle because any element of design can be contrasted with another – colour, perspective, typeface, positioning, line, size, shape, etc.
Finally, if you aren’t known for your award winning design skills, then there’s no shame in asking somebody else for a little help or a second opinion before you begin.