Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Should you buy content for your presentation?

In a recent newsletter for trainers I spotted an ad for a company that sells materials for presenters. Interested in what they might have, I checked out their web site. They offer workbooks, handouts and even full PowerPoint presentations on a variety of topics. The idea is that instead of creating your own content, you can just buy theirs and be ready to go. Is this a good idea?

I don't think so. It seems to me to be only a slight step up from the content wizards that PowerPoint contains. These wizards create such poor presentations that they are laughable. In fact, one of the most widely viewed presentations is The Gettysburg Address re-created in one of the content wizards. This is regularly used an an example of why PowerPoint itself is bad (it's not the tool but the user of the tool - but that's another issue altogether).

Instead of thinking that you can buy some standard content, put together a proper presentation structure to guide your message and your visuals. Audiences today will not put up with a presentation that is generic. You need to customize it. And that's only possible when you create the content that the audience needs to hear. That's why the first two chapters of "Guide to PowerPoint" don't even deal with slides. They deal with developing a clear structure so that when you get to creating slides, you understand how visuals fit in to your message. If you haven't got the book yet, get it at http://www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com/guidetoppt.htm .

2 Comments:

Blogger Laura said...

Photos, graphics, and copy are important content elements! Many times, it makes sense to hire a speechwriter or to commission compelling artwork that emotionally connects with your audience.

But as for Ye Olde PowerPoint Auto-Content Wizards? You're right. Quite dreadful.

I don't suppose automated content appeals to anybody! But hiring a creative person to craft your message -- or to create elements for it -- can be a smart idea.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Matthew Cornell said...

I'm with Laura - I buy graphics, but as far as buying *content* - well, that's MY job. It's the fun part of it, but it's also (for me) really hard. (I put together a full-day workshop on personal productivity, converting from old-school transparencies to power point. It turned out great - and I'm still improving it - but BOY was that hard. And yes, over 1/2 of it is activities, and I'm working on increasing it...)

Enjoying your blog - thanks for the writing!

9:20 AM  

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