You Are Your Presentation

It happened again. Another case of PowerPoint abuse. This time the offender was House Speaker Paul Ryan—and we’re just waiting for an SNL skit on this one.

ICYMI: Last week, he held a press conference to explain the newly proposed healthcare plan—a massively debated issue. And he used a PowerPoint deck to outline his presentation. And yes, his slides had too much text. And yes, his graphics were amateurish at best. But that’s not what caused the internet to roast him post-speech. The worst part was that he listed his points bullet-by-bullet and narrated them. It reminded me of some of my most boring college professors—it was painful to watch! That’s PowerPoint abuse. Unless you were required to watch the entire 34-minute speech, my guess is, you clicked away and read about it later.

We have to remember that we are the presentation, not our slides. PowerPoint (or whatever slide ware you’re using) is just a visual aid. We get into a rut and we feel like we have to include everything we say onto each slide. Using slides as a crutch like this is a mistake countless people make. The problem is, when we do that, the default becomes informing and we miss the opportunity to influence and inspire. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

When you do use PowerPoint, here are 5 tips for avoiding PowerPoint abuse:

  1. Use Black Slides to eliminate distractions.
  2. Keep it to one idea per slide—that’ll help with slide overload.
  3. Use descriptive titles on your slides.
  4. Use the Decker Grid™ to keep your message audience-centered and action-orientated. Have a POV—what do you want your audience to do about the information you share?
  5. Use pictures, graphics and images instead of bulleted sentences to trigger emotion in a way that gets people to feel something. Bonus: these SHARPs will be memorable! In fact, one bright spot of Paul Ryan’s presentation came around the 16:20 mark. He shared a personal story about the rising costs of tonsil removal for his three kids. It was something I could relate to—Ben and my youngest son just had his tonsils removed last year. It’s one of the only truly captivating moments of the entire speech (thanks camera man, for zooming in).

So, in your next presentation, avoid PowerPoint abuse! If you do, no one will call you a professor, I promise.

Influence with Black Slides

May is PowerPoint abuse awareness month* and to kick it off, here’s the number one PowerPoint rule that can transform the way you present information to influence your listeners. (I’m using the blanket term PowerPoint throughout this post, but that encompasses any slide deck, like Apple Keynote, etc.) Use black … Continue reading

How to influence with slides – titles!

Putting together a PowerPoint/Keynote presentation? Here’s one way to step up your game right now. Use descriptive titles on your slides. Quite often these days, on top of having a slide deck to support you while presenting live, you’re also expected to have a living, breathing slideument; it’ll be emailed around, … Continue reading

3 tips for presentations that stick

Dan Heath has done a fantastic job putting together a series of vignettes on stickiness. Watch this clip on presentations that stick. Let me add on to Dan’s 3 tips with a few examples we’ve seen in our programs recently: 1. Be Simple: Force yourself to prioritize. Boil down your message … Continue reading

A Dropped Call by Google

When Google announced Nexus One earlier this week, it got a lot of press, but not just on the phone itself, which was mixed. But the press on the presentation itself wasn’t mixed – it was bad. Nancy Duarte said newscasters called it a disaster (though she liked the slides.) CNBC … Continue reading

Are you in the weeds?

We’ve all been there – caught up in the shrinking world of tunnel vision.  But when communicating with others, being in the weeds can lose your audience. Last week I coached two executives, neither of whom had used video feedback before.  In both of these sessions, we addressed the need … Continue reading

But PowerPoints are NOT Your Presentation

With all the recent emphasis on the design of your PowerPoints (Keynote for the Mac), it’s time to revisit the fact that your visuals are NOT your presentation. You and your Point of View are the centerpiece. I think that the emphasis on PowerPoints (we’ll call them PP for brevity) … Continue reading

PowerPoint Revolution in 2009

Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte are New Communicators who have revolutionized the design of PowerPoints in 2008 with their ideas and books Presentation Zen and slide:ology. Read their books, and if you then do just two additional things you might just revolutionize your use of PowerPoints in 2009: 1. Create … Continue reading

The New SlideShare Ribbon

SlideShare is a great application most of you know about and use – it allows everyone to share PowerPoint presentations and decks easily and effectively. And among other things they have The World’s Best Presentation Contest every year. Now the SlideShare folks have come up with another new function. They … Continue reading