Avoiding Death by PowerPoint

Feb 8, 2016 by Reen Rose

If you have attended a presentation that involved PowerPoint, chances are you have been a victim of ‘Death by PowerPoint.’ This occurs because speakers type their entire speech onto the slides and then proceed to read them to you, or they change slides with regular monotony using a very similar layout with only the pictures and text changing. This is known as the freight train effect. Just as the cars of a very long train are fun to watch initially, they soon turn into a monotonous rhythm that threatens to put you to sleep. Changing similar looking slides every minute or so can have the same soporific result.

If you are a presenter who uses slides, make sure you read these 5 tips to help you avoid killing off your audience.

  1. Create the content of your presentation before you even consider what the slides should contain.
    The slides are there to enhance your words, not the other way around. Write the content of your presentation and then look for opportunities to make points or messages clearer with visual content.
  2. Don’t include text on the slides that you then read to the audience.
    Too many presenters use slides as a crutch, including the text of their speech on them and then reading them aloud. You will lose connection with your audience if you stop making eye contact and if people can read your message for themselves, why should they attend your presentation?
  3. Avoid animation unless there is a reason for it.
    Less is definitely more when it comes to animating slides. It may look ‘cool’ in your eyes but animation can slow down your presentation and make the eyes of your audience spin. If I need to bring something onto a slide I tend to use ‘Appear’ which is simple and clean.
  4. Be guided by the Rule of Six.
    This rule helps you avoid cluttering your slides. Try to avoid using more than 6 of anything on any slide (words, bullets, rows, columns etc.)
  5. Make sure there is a reason for each and every slide to be part of your presentation.
    Once you have created your slides, take time to examine them to ensure that they are adding clarity, emotion or are a visual representation of your words. Any slides that don’t have a purpose should be removed.

If you are in the Kelowna area on Thursday March 10, 2016 and would like to learn more about creating slides that will elevate your presentations to the next level, attend one of Reen’s seminars, PowerPoint for Presenters, or PowerPoint 101.