Is Powerpoint Painful?

“PowerPoint is painful.”

Max Zaklow-Leepson

I’ve written about the pros and cons of using PowerPoint to present information. The blogs are:

Part 1 PowerPoint: What’s the Point?

And

Part 2 PowerPoint: Making the most out of your presentations

Instead of pontificating about why PowerPoint is fraught with misleading and irrelevant information, I’m just going to quote Steve Jobs:

“It’s the story, not the slides that will capture the imagination of your audience”

That says it all.

Here’s one important resource to read: Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Corrupts Within

Have fun using PowerPoint.

PowerPoint – What’s the Point? Making the Most Out of Your Presentations Part 2

Five Surefire Ways to Make the Most Out of Your PowerPoint Presentation

  1. Use as few slides as you can to make your point. It’s kind of like packing a suitcase for your vacation. First, pack everything you want and need. This overloads your suitcase and makes it hard to close. Next, remove at least half of what you packed and repack the suitcase. Now everything fits and you can happily go on vacation knowing you did the right thing. Go through the same exercise with your slides.
  2. Face the audience and talk directly to them. Do not look at your slides. As I said above, this is the most important thing you can do to keep your audience engaged. In other words, don’t talk to your slides.
  3. Turn your presentation into a story using visuals, not bulleted words. Do not use cartoons to make your point. Some audience members might feel you are infantilizing them.
  4. Distribute your presentation handout to your audience in document form (not in PP).
  5. Use your own slides. I was listening to a talk at a conference where the speaker was using PowerPoint. She showed a slide that I thought would fit perfectly in a presentation I’d be giving in a few weeks. I asked her if I could borrow that slide. She said that would be OK. When I presented the talk and clicked on that slide, I froze. I could not, for the life of me, remember how this fit into my talk. It made sense when she used it but did not work for me. I’ll never do that again.

The most important lesson I’ve learned about using PP is that less is more. The less I explain, the more my audience will comprehend. I ask myself, “Do I really need to flash slides on a screen as a way to get my message across? Instead, I prepare a coherent and brief document to be handed out.

So, what’s an effective use of PP? – Try using one or two slides with graphics related to your happy-ending story. Tell a story. It’s a powerful way to get your message across and connect with your audience.

Before your prepare your next PowerPoint presentation, you’ll want to read a brilliant essay by Edward Tufte titled The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within. You can find it at http://www.edwardtufte.com

PowerPoint – What’s the Point? Part 1

According to my son Max, “Death by PowerPoint (PP) is painful”. As a marketing major in college, Max sat through countless hours of PP presentations in his classes. He would complain and say, “Just give me the notes”.

There might come a time when you’ll be asked to give a talk on a topic of interest to those in your business or professional world. And, chances are you’ll be asked to use PP, a slide show presentation software. I’ve been in that situation many times.

I want to talk about the use of electronics aids in presenting information to a group. Have you ever attended a talk and the some of the following things happened?

  • The speaker’s microphone did not work or it screeched with a deafening noise
  • No one knew how to turn the lights down in the meeting room
  • No one could figure out how to connect the speaker’s laptop to the projector
  • If a recorded video was shown, it’s quality was sketchy or inaudible
  • The notes that the speaker handed out were too small to read
  • The speaker’s slides were different than the written notes you were given

I’m sure you can think of other ‘challenges’ you’ve had with getting the electronics ready for your presentation. Assume that something will go wrong. Talk to the conference organizers several hours before you give your talk and make sure everything works.

Using PP as Part of a Business Information Sharing Presentation

I’ve given many talks at national conferences and seminars. For most of the talks, I had to write proposals before the talk would be accepted. After the proposals were accepted, I’d be given a list of things to do prior to the actual talk. Now remember, these talks were not sales pitches but content-sharing presentations.

Here are some of presentation guidelines I came across.

  • Speaker is allowed to place their company’s logo only on the first page of the presentation
  • Speaker cannot in any way, mention what their business does. The conference organizers do not want sales pitches, they want the speaker to share knowledge about their industry or profession
  • Speaker is not allowed to mention the names of their customers or clients
  • If you are scheduled to speak for a one-hour, your talk should last no longer than 45 minutes plus 15 minutes for question and answers.
  • Speaker has to submit their PP presentation no later than three weeks prior to the conference. (I usually got in trouble because I generally do not finish my presentation three week prior)

These restrictions can be annoying, but if that what it takes to get yourself in front of customers, then just do it.

In the next installment of PowerPoint – What’s The Point, I’ll share five surefire ways to make the most out of your PowerPoint presentation without putting your audience to sleep.

Before your prepare your next PowerPoint presentation, you’ll want to read a brilliant essay by Edward Tufte titled The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within. You can find it at http://www.edwardtufte.com