Have you heard the term, Death by PowerPoint?
Death by PowerPoint is a phenomenon caused by the poor use of presentation software, such as Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple Notes, Google Slides, etc.
Key contributors to death by PowerPoint include confusing graphics, slides with too much text and presenters whose idea of a good presentation is to read 40 slides out loud, or even a dysfunctional slide deck, marred by technical glitches and the inability of the presenter to cope with the pressure of presenting his/her slides. Death by PowerPoint is easily recognised by observing the audience members’ glazed eyes or yawns, glances at their watches, nodding heads due to boredom, furtive use of smartphones, and trips to the bathroom.
Common errors people make are:
- Too many bullet points. More than 6 is risky.
- Too many words on a slide. Nobody listens when they’re reading.
- Too many fonts are unnecessary and distracting.
- Same with too much bold, underline, and italics.
- Clipart… really? Avoid it. Period.
- Too many colour variations. Bright colours can be blinding.
- Not checking their spelling
So, what can you do better?
I recommend watching the Tedx talk given by David JP Phillips, a renowned presentation skills training coach, international speaker, and author. In his talk, he lays out five keys ideas to simplify your PowerPoint and make it attractive to your audience.
If you don’t have time to watch all of his presentation, here is a summary of his five points:
1. Only One Message Per Slide
When there is more than one message, your audience has to divert their attention to each message, which in turn reduces their focus.
2. Use Contrast and Size to Steer Focus
Use less words, and instead use big and contrasting objects. They ground your points, are more visible to your audience, and encourages the audience to focus on what you’re saying.
3. Avoid Showing Text and Speaking at the Same Time
People will read the text and not listen to you, which ultimately will make your audience forget both what you say and what is shown on the PowerPoint presentation.
4. Use Dark Background
It is not something we necessarily agree with, however there is a place for using a dark background for your PowerPoint. The slides should only be a visual aid and not the focus. The would purpose of a dak backgroun is to shift the focus to you, the presenter.
5. Only Six Objects Per Slide
Six is a magical number in terms of presenting. Anything more than six would require drastic cognitive energy from your audience to process.
Remember that, ultimately, it’s you that the audience should be paying attention to, not your slides!
PowerPoint can be used to create great visual aids, but the success of your presentation is determined by the way you deliver them. So, tell your story with a confident, compelling physical presence, and master it by rehearsing it 10 to 15 times.
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