If “Death by PowerPoint” is a cliché, why are so many business professionals still trying to kill us?
By now, you know you shouldn’t be putting too many words or too much detailed information on your slides, but many of you seem to insist on doing it anyway. Maybe you’re not killing your audience, but you’re probably putting them to sleep. And that means you’re not connecting.
Everyone can make their slides simpler.
A client recently lamented to me, “I can’t. I have a global quarterly financial statement to present, so I have to put in a lot of information.” Perhaps. But you don’t have to put it all on one single slide!
Your slides are supposed to reinforce your presentation and give it punch – not become a follow-along, word-for-word text of your presentation.
Use pictures and photos. Get graphic! But, again, clean and simple is more memorable for your audience. keep the photos per slide to a minimum. One or two is best!
Break up your information. Sure, you know how to bullet-point a list. But how many bullets do you have on one slide? How much information do you have following each bullet? Keep it short! Your verbal words should be telling the story, not your written ones.
Make two versions. When I coach with Aileen Pincus, we have often encouraged clients who really feel they must have a “long” version of their presentation, to make it. But, also make a shorter, more visual version and use this one for your presentation. After you’re finished, hand out your long version as a take-home for your audience to review.
Consider Prezi. Do you know about this alternative to PowerPoint site? It provides a graphic-based, fun way to present your information. It’s free and once you get the hang of it, easy to use. Here, for example, is my Prezi take on “Leadership.”
Join SlideShare. If you haven’t already joined this popular site, it’s a great resource. Before you make your next PowerPoint on any given topic, plug in some search terms on SlideShare and see what is already out there. There are some duds, mind you, but you will also find some lovely slides from which to draw inspiration! Here, for another example, is my recent PowerPoint on “Communicating Change.” Let me know what you think.
Read your slides. Your audience is there to see and hear you, not your PowerPoint. If you write out your script on your slides, the audience will read ahead and not follow you. You will have lost control and relevance.
Use over-detailed graphs. We’ve all seen the US Government’s crazy undecipherable slide for planning tactics in Afghanistan. But, a detailed graph outlining quarterly financials is bound to be too complicated too. Point out the take-aways in your slide and hand out the financial statement as a supplement to study – after your finished.
Use fussy themes or silly transitions. The best slides are the simplest. If you’re spending time agonizing over which colorful theme to use, or whether to use a “star-shaped” dissolve between slides, stop. It’s likely to look amateurish and be distracting anyway. Standard transitions and a white background is a good starting point unless you’re a graphic designer.
Go over “three.” Think in groups of “three.” Three bullet points maximum on a slide. Three illustrations to make a point. Your audience won’t remember more than that, so don’t try to force them.
Forget to rehearse. Practice presenting with your slides in real time. How do you feel when you see each one? Do they make sense to you? If you can’t follow your slides, how can you expect your audience to?
Take a moment to learn how to simplify. If your slides are simpler, they will have more impact. And then, so will you!
Let me know how you’re doing with your slides. Need more advice, let me know!