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

Audience Analysis: Nonverbal Cues & Clues

You’re out to dinner with friends, and one of them is in the midst of telling a great story. She’s gesturing wildly, her intonation ebbing and flowing, her energy rising as the story builds. Just as she’s about to reveal the climax, here comes a waiter to cut her off … Continue reading

Technology & Storytelling

I got sucked into a vortex again. If you’ve ever been on TED.com, you know what I’m talking about. You attempt to watch one talk (ranging from 2-18 minutes) and all of a sudden, you’re engaged in hours of thought-provoking, imaginative, and powerful presentations, and half your day disappears. Last … Continue reading

Get out of your comfort zone!

What makes being a road warrior so rewarding? Being unexpectedly inspired. Week after week as a Program Leader for Decker, I’m traveling to train clients of vastly different industries. It’s fascinating to train such a variety, from engineers and marketing gurus to sales sharks and executives because oftentimes, core communication … Continue reading

Video Blog: Get creative with your visual aids

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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

3 tips for presentations that stick

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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