At Active Presence we like PowerPoint - many of our clients feel most comfortable using the software and the results can be great if used correctly. However, the results only flourish when the tool is used correctly .
Launched over 20 years ago, PowerPoint quickly established itself as the 'business graphics' program of choice - replacing overhead projectors & transparencies. Sadly with this transition, a very important item in the presenter's arsenal was lost - the script!
If you've used overhead transparencies, you'll recall that along with the transparencies themselves, the box also contained the presenter's script. The script was there to ensure message consistency regardless of presenter. It also meant that the graphics were designed for the benefit of the audience.
When PowerPoint was initially launched many people struggled to adapt to the new technology. Microsoft's solution was to create template slides containing a title and a bullet point list. Sadly, this 'solution' resulted in creative, effective presentations being buried under a wave of meaningless, ineffective bullet-point slides.
This need not be the case. If used correctly, PowerPoint can be an effective tool for producing highly effective presentations - either for main stage use, or in support of sales campaigns.
Here are our top three tips for highly effective graphics:
Ditch Bullet Point Lists
Bullet point lists don't work. They distract the audience from what they should be doing - listening to you.
If you're talking when your audience is reading, your message will be lost somewhere in the middle.
Too often presenters use their slides as prompt cards - as a reminder of what they should be talking about. If the presenter needs them, he or she is displaying disrespect for the audience through lack of adequate preparation.
If your script is on the screen, your mistakes will be obvious and will undermine your message. Your visuals should support what you are saying - good slides only make sense once explained.
Don't Show Them Everything at Once
You probably carried on reading that thick novel because you want to find out what happens next, or tuned in to your favourite TV series because you were left on a cliff hanger in the previous episode. Well, your presentation slides should use this same trick.
Slowly build the slide (using animations and transitions) as you develop your story. Resist the temptation to lay out the whole story on one slide, and then expect people to remain interested as you 'waffle' on.
Avoid Distracting Graphics
We often see slides packed full of colour, exciting 3D graphics and quirky pictures. However, do they do a good job of communicating the presenter's message. 'Less is more' is a pretty good mantra to remember.
The simplest messages are often the most easily remembered. Bear in mind that your message is a combination of you and your slides - what you say needs to work with what you show.
In keeping with the 'less is more' theme, there is little benefit in having your company logo on every slide. If you have to remind your audience who you represent on every side , you have a much larger marketing problem to resolve.