Death by PowerPoint: The 10 ways to prevent it
Unlike firearms, no one needs a license to present with PowerPoint – so until such licenses are issued, these are the basics in the field of presentation safety.
1. Skip the first slide with the table of contents. There’s nothing worse than the dentist telling you what he’s going to do. Rather set up the theme at the start. Allude to what’s coming without giving the plot away. Perhaps this is a good place to sell yourself – not by listing your credentials, but by saying something insightful.
2. I know you have a lot of information, and it’s all so interesting, but please – only one strategic point to be made per slide.
3. If you use less than 16 point you should be shot.
4. Get a designer to critique your slides. Hang on, that might take too long – let him/her redo it.
5. You’re telling a story. However, unlike bedtime, the idea is to keep the audience engaged as opposed to nodding off. Vary things – like your tone. It won’t kill you to just have a slide with an image you can talk around.
6. Like any good movie, people need a reason to keep watching. Hence the reason for doing away with the table of contents. You’re telling a story – they should want to hang on to the end to ‘see what happens’.
7. Use the build feature where you bring up each sentence individually. If you have five sentences on a slide, don’t show all five and then start with Point 1. Tell the story as it unfolds. Keep them in suspense.
8. Never ever read your slides verbatim. It’s horrible and gives the impression you don’t know much more than the data on the screen.
9. I know it’s hard, but go over your presentation until it flows. You don’t need to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse (that’s nonsense, and if you’re doing that, you come across as interesting as a plank).
10. You need to know your story, and especially ‘what’s coming next’. It’s so embarrassing when you’re surprised by your own slide.