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Avoid Death by PowerPoint

Avoid Death by PowerPoint

PowerPoint has ruled the world of presentations for the past 25 years. And for good reason. It has served us well. It has given the audience a “place” to focus on; it’s kept the presenter company on the stage and made their job more comfortable; and it’s provided a means to add graphics to the presentation. It’s been a good thing.

But, as technology evolves and changes, seemingly by the day, so must the PowerPoint presentation. PowerPoint is a tool to enhance your presentation…it’s not your presentation. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when preparing your next PowerPoint presentation.

  • Slides are their own entity – don’t talk to them, or worse yet, read from them. Instead make eye contact with your audience and use the slide as an enhancement.
  • Use graphics – slides heavy with content are hard to read and your audience will lose interest. But, make sure the graphics are relevant.
  • Large easy to read fonts are a must!
  • Avoid information overload by using too many bullet points.
  • Keep color contrasts simple – black and white is always good.
  • Create a clean look and avoid clutter.
  • Color theme – if you use colors, keep to a theme with no more than 3 or 4 colors.

I’m sure you’ll agree that far too many presenters rely heavily (too heavily) on PowerPoint, Keynote, and other presentation tools for their talks. Think about it. How many times have you attended a presentation or conference and tried to take a photo of the slides on the screen?  I have done it myself.  Why do we do this?  We see a slide and think, “How can I remember all of this?”  Well if everyone is taking photos of your slides, can they also be listening to what you are saying?

Most presenters think their presentation is a PowerPoint slide deck.  David Phillips contends, and I agree, that the slide deck is a visual aid to your presentation. In his TEDx  video How to avoid death by PowerPoint, he outlines five basic guidelines to get more out of your visual aids.

  • Limit each slide to one message.
  • Don’t speak if the slide has full sentences.
  • Use large font to emphasize the important points.
  • Use of contrast helps focus attention.
  • Slides should contain 6 or fewer objects.

Check out Phillips’ video and see if it improves your use of these visual aids. And, think of the PowerPoint presentations you’ve seen that have not impressed you – don’t follow in that presenter  footsteps!