A lot has been written about and there are lots of sources for PowerPoint presentations. It is unlikely I will blaze a new trail here, rather what I want to try to do here is provide some “greatest hits” to provide some perspectives for guidance or as a comparison to sharpen yours. There are two kinds of PowerPoints:
Some companies insist that you not only show EVERY slide, but provide a script, which you must use VERBATIM. If this applies to you, please skip to the next section. But, if you are allowed to take some liberties with your company-supplied PowerPoint, here are some ideas to consider.
- DON’T SHOW ALL THE SLIDES – Marketing is afraid to leave out ANY detail or feature but nobody wants to sit through all that. Use the “Hide Slide” function in PowerPoint to select the slides most relevant for the group to whom you are presenting.
- DON’T READ THE SCRIPT – Use the script to get your arms around the concepts your group, then put it in your own words. Practice with the script a few times, then say it the way you say it. That’s when the magic happens.
- PERSONALIZE WHEREVER POSSIBLE – If you can get the company’s logo (eps file works best), insert it into the title slide. Put the name of the company in the slides wherever it is appropriate. Even better, if you have stats or other company information from their annual report or website, use that in your presentation where it helps to drive home your point.
This is what the majority of the literature about PowerPoint deals with, so I’m going to be very selective (don’t accuse me of missing stuff, please) with what I feel is most important. (Mostly based upon mistakes I’ve made.)
- KISS YOUR AUDIENCE – The acronym (Keep It Simple Stupid), not literally. Don’t go font crazy, have different and over-complicated animations or designs that are very bold. Remember, you want them to LISTEN to you and grab the concept summary from your PowerPoint. Anything that detracts from that reduces the impact of your presentation.
- KISS THEM AGAIN – Keep the content of the slides as minimal as possible. Long sentences with sub-bullets will focus the group on reading the slides, while you yammer away with nobody listening.
- KISS THEM ONCE MORE – After you’ve built your PowerPoint, start going through it slide by slide and ask these questions at every slide:
- Can I live WITHOUT this slide? If YES, delete it. If no, move to B.
- Can this slide be condensed? Do I need all these bullets and is each one as short as it can be? If YES, move to C. If no, EDIT, then repeat B.
- After you’ve finished going through your PowerPoint, start over at A.
A lot of literature here, too, but I was very fortunate to have been assigned a coach at one company and much of this, I learned from him
- PRACTICE – KNOW IT COLD. That’s it. Know your presentation completely, so that you can be relaxed in the delivery and allow for a virtual Q+A.
- INVOLVE YOUR AUDIENCE – Use questions “Has this ever happened to anybody?” or “Is this a challenge for you?” to engage and involve your audience. Nobody likes to be lectured to, but they enjoy an intelligent dialog.
- PLAY JAZZ – You can only do this if you have successfully completed #1 above. Going off script can yield great gains – in knowledge you share, knowledge you gain and building a great foundation for a collaborative business relationship. If someone takes you away from your PowerPoint, know when to go with the flow or gently guide them back on track.
I started presenting with flipcharts, and would frequently tear one off, wad it up and throw it over my shoulder. It made my presentations lively, engaging and focused on the group’s needs. Keep that first in mind always, and you’ll NAIL it!