Thursday, September 18, 2008

Funny PowerPoint video and my response

About every two weeks someone sends me a link to a video of Don McMillan on YouTube explaining what not to do when using PowerPoint. If you haven't seen it, here it is:


While I agree that he is funny, what I find missing is some information on what you should do instead of the mistakes he so humorously points out. So let me add to what he has said and share a few tips to help you avoid being in a future video on PowerPoint mistakes.

1. Use visuals instead of overloading on text
Don clearly shows the problems with too much text on the slide which leads to reading the slides to your audience. Reading slides was the #1 annoyance for audiences in my survey last year. So what should you do instead? Look at the words on your slide and look for clues as to how to represent the idea with a visual - graph, diagram, photo, etc. Many people struggle with this, that's why I wrote "The Visual Slide Revolution - Transforming overloaded text slides into persuasive presentations". Get more info and read a chapter for free at

2. Select a slide design (colors & fonts) that works
If you need help selecting colors that work well together, use the Color Contrast Calculator on my site at It will tell you whether the colors you have chosen will work. When it comes to fonts, use a sans-serif font like Arial because research shows that it is easier to see when projected.

3. Focus on clarity
The primary focus of any visual you use should be to have the information as clear as possible for your audience so there is no guessing as to what your point is. This means limiting data to only what is needed and using callouts on visuals so the audience knows where to look and why. It also means not using goofy animation that distracts people from what you are saying.

While we may laugh at what Don shows us in the video and we cringe at many of the presentations we see that make the same mistakes, we need to know what to do instead so our presentations are more effective.


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