Executive Education

How to avoid death by PowerPoint

Remember the last presentation you sat bored through, scrolling through your smartphone? Remember the last presentation your audience sat bored through, scrolling through their smartphone?

Death by PowerPoint is a major cause for concern in the corporate world.

But believe it or not, it isn’t the software that is killing you. It is the way that you’re designing the presentation in the software (including Prezi, Keynote and Google Slides) that is the real problem.

A poor presentation is overloaded with facts, stats, numbers, corporate jargon, and dense text, inconsistent design elements, as well as lacks a key message.

A powerful presentation, on the other hand, is clear, easy to read and uses simple language, as well as infographics that visualise key points and highlight the benefits.

Now, which one would you rather sit through or subject others to?

Cut the clutter

It’s more than important than ever to cut out all the crap from your presentation. What gets left out of is more important than what goes in.

You need a balance of images, keywords, infographics and illustrations that support what you are saying, not dictate it. Your slides are not a teleprompt for you.

Some of us think that sharing everything and blinding everyone with numbers, bullet points, irrelevant information and words is the best way to be transparent and open – that couldn’t be further from the truth!

This will only put the people you are trying to engage off, and make them lose interest faster.

Don’t drown in data

Used sparingly, numbers add credibility to your arguments, but it’s important not to drown out your message with too much data.

Any research or background information can be stored in a separate document like a PDF, and emailed around either before or after the presentation for further reading.

This will help make sure you don’t end up presenting a report! (An all-too-easy mistake.)

Make relevant statistics visually appealing by turning them into an infographic or illustration. Talk about the insight, rather than giving everyone the whole backstory. Time is precious!

Make them feel it

Your presentation is your opportunity to influence the way those in the room think and act. So you’ve got to make them want to do something other than run or sleep.

As humans, it’s proven that we make decisions based on emotion, so you’ve got to think about what you want them to feel or do after your presentation (other than rush for a hit of caffeine).

Should they feel angry and compelled to act now? Or excited about your new vision or idea?

Choose images, photos, video, and even colours, that match that mood. Then use relevant stories to connect one-to-one with them, so what you’re saying and showing becomes not only memorable, but meaningful as well.

This is your chance to share not just your point of view, but also your passion for your subject. So if all else fails then that shine!

For help with your presentations, check out her white paper.

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Emma Bannister
Emma Bannister is passionate about presenting big, bold and beautiful ideas. She is the founder and CEO of Presentation Studio, APAC’s largest presentation communication agency, and author of the book Visual Thinking: How to transform the way you think, communicate and influence with presentations. Emma is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.