Thursday, July 23, 2009

Content vs. Sizzle in your PowerPoint presentation

This recent article in The Onion is a funny take on how too many presenters focus on the wrong area when developing their presentation (the article is at and remember that The Onion is a site that creates humorous fictitious news items).

Most of us have seen the presentations where the presenter has obviously spent hours getting just the right animation effect for the flying text or spinning clip art. We groan and resign ourselves to spending the next 20 minutes sitting through a demonstration of how “cool” the presenter thinks they are. We walk away without a clue of what they wanted us to remember because the “fancy stuff” was distracting.

I’m not against using the features in PowerPoint. But I want presenters to use them wisely. Use animation when there is a purpose, such as building ideas so they can be discussed individually or moving the attention to a certain spot on the slide. Don’t use random slide transitions, in fact, use only a simple fade if you use any at all (I don’t use slide transitions at all). Keep elements such as bullet points simple and clean, don’t get “cute” with logo or clip art bullet points. Use audio or video only when it is more powerful, such as for testimonials. Use simple, clean backgrounds, not busy distracting ones. And the list could go on.

Here’s the bottom line. Keep it simple, focus on your message and don’t get caught up in what PowerPoint can offer. Your audience came to hear your message, not see how much you know about the program.


Blogger Ed said...

You are certainly correct here, it really isnt about the sizzle. A slight bit of sizzle is ok, but when it starts to detract from the clarity/meaning of your message then its time to rethink how much pizzaz you have in your slide.

The flashiest I get is a fade entrance for various elements of my presentations... pretty old school I guess.

11:46 AM  

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