PowerPoint Do's and Don'ts
After spending the last five days making various PowerPoint presentations, I started thinking about how much I loathe watching them.
I recently worked with someone whose position required them to speak publicly on a daily basis. Unfortunately, at best he had modest speaking talents. He must have sensed these inadequacies because on every occasion, from the mundane to the solemn, out popped a PowerPoint. They were awful. With ham-handed (and often inappropriate) attempts at humor and voluminous use of outlines his presentations became the dread of the office.
Not everyone can be a great public speaker and a little flair via the PowerPoint can help get the point across but I have found that most presentations do more harm than help.
So here are a few of my thoughts on what to do and not to do in PowerPoint presentations.
1. Don’t just present an outline! The brain handles time perception in strange ways. Once it knows the exact structure of events it locks on this and begins to anticipate the sequence. The brain loses focus on what is being said and turns to what is left to be said. Boredom takes over. Who hasn’t thought, “There are 18 points on his slide and he has only done two. Will this ever end?”
2. Do show material that augments (but doesn’t just repeat) the information in the speech. Use a photo or a chart to expound on what you are saying. But ONLY have the slide on the screen while you are directly addressing it. Also, if you are using unfamiliar terms or names you can strengthen memory by presenting it visually as well as orally. But again, take the slide down quickly. You want people focusing on you not a screen.
3. Be wary of animations and other gimmicks. Don’t those little tricks in PowerPoint seem so amazing while you are creating a presentation? But compared to what we see on a daily basis on websites and television they are embarrassingly hokey. PowerPoint has long since stopped being cutting edge technology. Keep it simple.
4. Don’t get caught in the trap of using PowerPoint to completely educate your audience. If it is important for the viewers to walk away with a lot of information from the presentation then create support material. But if you provide the material in a handout, try distributing it after the speech.
5. Avoid the funny. You aren’t as funny as you think you are. If you have to tell jokes please keep them off of the screen.
6. OK, I am repeating myself but I think it is that important. To keep the PowerPoint from dragging your presentation down make sure to remove a screen the second you have finished discussing it. Don’t be afraid of the blank screen! When it’s blank the audience turns their full attention to you.
7. Finally, if PowerPoint is not needed, DON’T USE IT!
These are just a few of my thoughts on using PowerPoint more effectively. What are your thoughts?(Friend me at VastineS.)