Angela R. Garber coined the term, “Death by PowerPoint” in 2001, as a response to tedious, mind-numbing presentations. We’ve all sat through boring and sleep-inducing presentations, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Indeed, PowerPoint presentations don’t have to favor style over substance nor serve as a “chicken hypnosis tool,” as retired Marine Colonel, Thomas X Hammes refers to the ubiquitous presentation platform. To create and execute effective presentations, what key elements should your PowerPoint deck emphasize or avoid? Below is an analysis of effective and not-so-effective presentations with accompanying analysis:
Develop a clear and concise overview – Slide four outlines, in plain terms, “what you’ll learn.” After reviewing The Brand Gap presentation, you will learn the modern definition of a brand and understand the five disciplines of brand building. Simple, concise and digestible.
Show, don’t just tell — Images offer tangible evidence of your points. Slide 20 is an image of dozens of cameras — illustrating the authors point about brand differentiation in the market.
Infographics marry visual and textual – Typical charts can often seem dull and tedious. Compare slide 25 with 26. Which is more interesting? Slide 26 illustrates Coke’s market cap in relation to its brand equity. Using a Coke bottle as measure of capital, the authors spice-up typically boring charts.
A presentation can be interactive — A presentation doesn’t have to be a one-way street. Consider injecting questions to get audience members engaged in the presentation. Slide 109 does this well by asking viewers to determine which website looks easier to use: Excite or Google.
Create a story — When reviewing this presentation, the combination of words and images makes it feel as if the authors are presenting the material. Each slide is tightly connected to the next, creating a seamless narrative.
Build off of a theme — It’s helpful to set viewer expectations for what is to come. Slide 25 starts a pyramid that is built-upon with each following slide. This idea-building strategy can help users see how elements work together to create the big picture.
Form a rhythm — Notice in the beginning of the presentation, the author features a quote from Steve Jobs, one element of the pyramid, snapshot of a piece of technology, a quote or two, then repeats. This rhythm builds a momentum and keeps viewers waiting for the next section of the pyramid or next Steve Jobs quote. It is a great way to keep viewers engaged because naturally they see the pattern and can’t help but watch.
An image says a thousand words — Starting on slide 44, the author illustrates the point through simple images. The author lets the viewer make the connections between the previous analysis and tangible examples.
Now that we’ve shared the dos, let’s discuss the absolute don’ts:
Am I reading a dissertation? — Presentations are intended to support the speaker — not serve as a script. Slide 2 begs the question, should I listen or read? Use text to highlight points, not describe them in long-form.
Wait while I get my glasses – Unless the presentation is displayed on a jumbo-tron, viewers are not going to be able to decipher the impossibly small text on slide six. Ensure if viewers are going read, they don’t have to get a magnify glass.
Keep graphics simple — Graphics should be simple. The author should have explored elements of the complex graphic on slide six across maybe 10 slides. Condensing a complex graphic on one slide causes visual confusion.
Image by Sigurd Decroos from Stock.Xchng