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PowerPoint Poisoning

A slow but painful death…

Any self-respecting company is producing vast amounts of PowerPoint presentations every day. And granted, this program is excellent for structuring a presentation and to use as support when the presentation is delivered.

But honestly: how many presentations have you sat through which made you wish for a quicker death because of an endless stream of boring slides?

In order to set the tone, take a break and get yourself a good laugh on how you’re not supposed to do it. Don McMillian illustrates this rather efficiently:

So, it’s all about realizing what the goal of your presentation is, in order not to end up in the category of ‘Death by PowerPoint’.

Here’s what you could do:

  • Realize exactly which story you want to tell. It’s like a real life story – you start by building momentum, then you take your viewers through a process and you end up by giving them the solution. This is what your presentation should express.

Depending on which topic you wish to explain, you might consider using a method used by both Martin Luther King and Steve Jobs, who both knew exactly how to catch the attention of their audiences. The method is primarily used for speeches, but the logic works for presentations as well. You start out by telling where we are now, and then you talk a little about where we could be and then go back to where we are now. This pattern is repeated a couple of times building up to the grand finale where you reveal the solution of where we should be. This is what you want your audience to remember when they leave your presentation. It may sound a little confusing, but take a look at the drawing, and you will see what I mean (click for a bigger size):

  • It’s a very bad habit to create PowerPoints loaded with content. I usually call this Word documents with bigger fonts. What you might do is to create your presentation in a wordy version, which can be used to send out after the meeting. Then you create a version where you shorten it up, using only keywords – this is the version you use in the actual presentation. Remember that your slides should only act as a backup to your presentation, not as a full manuscript. If you need to read from long sentences aloud that are already on your slides, you have in a way made coming to the meeting obsolete… And your audience will start reading the slides themselves and stop listening to you.
  • Some effects are fine, like words sliding in by clicking the mouse, since it’s possible to be in control of when you reveal your content, but use it wisely!

Do you sometimes fall in the trap of ‘Death by PowerPoint’ when presentations are done in your company?

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