Oops! Is Your Power Point Presentation a Help or a Hindrance?
Be careful with that Power Point! Have you noticed how many features Power Point offers? You can bring those new slides into view spinning, sliding, cascading and bursting. You can create such a cacophony of color that your audience completely forgets what you are talking about.
But there are more subtle ways to undermine your own presentation with Power Point.
Power Point – Don’t Dilute Your Power!
At a networking event yesterday a very articulate and knowledgeable person explained a new program that sounded fabulous. Great topic, great voice, good pacing, and well organized. He was warm, sincere, convincing and had added just the right touch of humor to keep things lively. It was just an all around good presentation — except for the Power Point.
Let’s call our presenter Mr. Brook. Either Mr. Brook hadn’t used Power Point much in the past, or he was such a distinguished person that no one had ever dared to mention that there are good ways and bad ways to use PP.
PP is a powerful tool. Like any powerful tool, PP can be used for good, or it can be used for evil. Or, as in the case of Mr. Brook, It be used clumsily.
Mr. Brook had taken the bullet points of his well organized speech and put them onto slides, a considerate thing to do so we could follow along. Unfortunately, he talked about his slides as if they were graphics.
As he brought up a new slide he might say, “This slide is about what the students in the program expected.” He gave us a few seconds to read the four points and then he discussed them. But he never actually spoke aloud the words of the four points that were projected on the screen.
That meant that in order to follow him, every single person in that very crowded room was dependent on their own ability to read the slide. Visually impaired people, people sitting too far to the side, too far to the back, or behind an obstruction, were not fully able to understand everything that he was presenting.
The Rules of Using Power Point
RULE #1: Treat the words on your slides as a way to emphasize an important idea. Speak the words as you point to the slide.
Assume that a portion of your audience will not be able to read the text on your slides.
RULE #2: Use as few words as possible on a slide. One bullet point per slide can be quite enough.
True you can show all of the bullets on one page, simply reveal each new idea as you come to it. But even better is to show only one point per slide. I saw one slide deck where each slide was divided in half, with text on the right half and a colorful illustration on the left. Each slide exhibited the text against a pale background color that coordinated with the illustration.
RULE #3: Do NOT squish a whole spreadsheet onto a Power Point slide to discuss the data from row 10, column K.
If you have ever seen this done, I don’t need to explain!
RULE #4: Even if the slide is just an illustration, describe the illustration enough so that your point is comprehensible to anyone who is unable to see it.
Instead of saying, “Yep, they look happy,” point to the projection and say, “And here we can see the students happily enjoying the swimming pool that resulted from all of their hard work raising funds.”
RULE #5: Be prepared to do your presentation without the slides.
Colorful Power Point slides can really add to a presentation, like gestures or vocal variety. But don’t allow your presentation to depend on it. Always present your material completely enough for the 25% of the people who aren’t reading the slides.
Not only will people appreciate the extra emphasis, but when an unplanned technical glitch occurs, you will be able carry with polish and aplomb.