Recently I was subjected to another poor PowerPoint presentation and asked myself why after over 30 years people still make the same mistakes? I am a fan of PowerPoint and so are Microsoft who bought it in 1987 for $14 million (about $34 million in today’s terms). It is a vast improvement on overhead projectors and acetate slides which were what was used when I first gave presentations. It is a powerful presentation aid and there, I think, lies the problem, people believe it is the presentation and think it will do all the work. Like any tool or instrument, it needs to be used with skill. A violin in the hands of the untrained and unskilled is a dreadful thing, in the hands of a virtuoso it produces beautiful music.
That was the first problem with the PowerPoint presentation I suffered; no training and no skill. It was produced by someone who was an expert in his field, but not in creating good PowerPoint slides. He was also not good at giving presentations. This is often the case, a company will use an expert or a senior manager to give presentations because they know the stuff, often they know nothing about giving presentations.
Top tip 1) Get someone who is good at preparing PowerPoint slides to produce them and someone who is good at presenting to present them (this may not be the same person). The expert can be on-hand to answer questions on the day.
This may create more work with people having to be briefed and more people involved; however, if it is important, it is worth the investment in doing it well.
Top tip 2) Make sure people can see the slides. You may not be able to access the venue you are using before the day, but you will probably know the size. Check that someone sitting at the furthest distance away from the screen can read it.
Top tip 3) Do not put too much on the slide. Don’t put lots of data on the slide or complicated graphs. Pull out the main feature and make sure that is writ large.
If people want to see the data, you can send it to them after.
Top tip 4) Don’t put your name, company logo, website etc on every slide. People will remember you if you deliver a great presentation not because you cluttered up each slide with unnecessary stuff and please don’t use pretty curlicues. Leave the fancy templates alone.
Top tip 5) Don’t read from the slide. It will mean you will turn your back on the audience (not good) and you will put too many words on the slide. Instead of putting:
“One of the main things your presentation needs to have is impact.”
Just say that sentence and put impact writ large on the slide.
Or if the style of your presentation fits with it used a picture to illustrate impact.
There is a lot more I could say but just by following these tips you will avoid your presentation being a car crash.
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