Friday, May 16, 2008

PowerPoint Myths

I recommend you read a recent article by Nilofer Merchant, CEO of Rubicon Consulting titled “Eight Great PowerPoint Myths” (click here to read the article). What I liked about this article is that it takes an audience perspective, not a presenter’s perspective. Why is that so important? Because far too many presentations are all about the presenter, not about the audience.

What I would add to Nilofer’s comments is the order in which you should undertake the tasks that it takes to create a great presentation that uses PowerPoint as a supporting tool. Here’s my list in order:

  1. Decide on the goal of the presentation – what do you want the audience to know, do or feel after you are finished?
  2. Analyze your audience – who they are, where they are coming from, any underlying feelings or assumptions you need to take into account.
  3. Outline your main points and supporting information so that you logically move the audience from where they are now to where you want them to be at the end of the presentation.
  4. Plan how you will open the presentation, interact with the audience so it is more of a conversation, and close the presentation
  5. Create persuasive visual slides that have a headline and a clearly designed visual that you can speak to in order to make your point.
  6. Rehearse your presentation so you smooth out the awkward parts and it flows as easily as a casual conversation with friends on the weekend.
  7. Reap the rewards that come to those who stand head and shoulders above the normal presentation that consists of reading bullet paragraphs off the slides.

You can get more information on my five-step KWICK method for creating persuasive visual slides in my book “The Visual Slide Revolution” by clicking here.

1 Comments:

Blogger Terry said...

Dave,

Thanks for the post!

I think everyone in business has been in this situation: an important but overly boring presentation, which makes it hard to pay attention and absorb the information.Here is my advice if power-point must be used:

1: Close Outlook

Close Outlook when you are showing PowerPoint slides. Otherwise, email alerts pop up.

2: Slideshow Mode

Always use the slideshow mode: it makes your slides easier to see.
3: Standing in projector beam

Always avoid standing in the projector beam, as it is distracting.
4: Bullets as hooks

Think of the bullets on your slides as hooks. By that I mean that the bullet should remind you of your talking points but also incite curiosity in your audience. Use questions, alliteration (repetition of consonants) or juxtaposition of ideas to intrigue the audience. For example:

· Why Automate Processes?

· License to Fail

· Magnet Markets

· Customers: Faithful or Fickle?

· Plan or Wing It?

· Tragedy or Triumph?

5: Use more images

Incorporate images and negative visual space. Break up all the linear text on your slides with stories, examples, images & metaphors. Otherwise, you are not engaging your audience’s right hemisphere, the brain’s center of imagination. That’s when our minds start to drift, in spite of the fact that the data may be important for us to learn and understand. Use more imagery coupled with metaphor. The image search engine that I use is image.google.com. You can save the image files you find to your hard drive and insert them into PowerPoint. Use files that are between 30 – 100K for good clarity without bloating your PowerPoint file.

6: Simplify text

Most PowerPoint slides are loaded with way too much text. Distill your slides down into simple bullet points with 4 or 6 words per bullet max. Instead, think of the bullets as hooks.

Thanks again

9:20 PM  

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