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.

Go Dark

It’s Thursday morning. You’re sitting in a meeting and trying to read from an overloaded PowerPoint and stay focused on the speaker. With every slide, it seems like more and more is packed onto the screen. Your eyes glaze over. It’s happened again – PowerPoint abuse.  But it doesn’t have … Continue reading

A PowerPoint Paradigm Shift

Ever get into the rut of doing what you’ve always done because it’s comfortable – or because it’s the way it’s always been done? I’m talking about presentations – specifically the ones where you use PowerPoint. We were reminded of this when a client recently shared that he led a … Continue reading

Speakers – Be Aware, Twitter is Coming

Business speakers (and leaders, keynoters, politicians, Pastors and, well, everyone…) need to be aware that like it or not, Twitter is coming to their speaking experience. Be Aware, and Beware! There’s been a lot of buzz – and new insight – into what to do about people twittering while you … 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

Duarte for Design

Just had a great lunch and meeting with Nancy Duarte – who runs Duarte Design with her husband Mark. They are the ones who did the core design of Al Gore’s Academy Award winning “An Inconvenient Truth,” among other things. (You might think Al Gore made that movie – I … Continue reading

Use Black Slides

Power points are great – used correctly. The problem is 95% of the time we run into PowerPoint Abuse. If you follow just ONE rule it can transform the way you can present information to influence using PowerPoints (or PPs – making them generic.) Definition: I’m using the term PowerPoints … Continue reading