We’ve all heard the expression ‘death by powerpoint’ and yet professional people who should know better are still subjecting unsuspecting audiences to presentations that are utterly boring, banal, condescending, overly-complicated, time wasting, mind-numbing, bum-numbing, yawn making …. well. you get the picture.
The ONLY reason for making a presentation should be to move your audience in some way; change their thinking or perception, their attitudes or behaviour.
To move an audience a speaker needs to make a connection by creating chemistry but so often all they create is boredom.
Don’t do this:
The first example had university lecturers not only reading every word on their slides (power point as script) but giving us all a USB stick with the bloody slides on as well just in case we didn’t get the message by seeing it and hearing it simultaneously!
If a slide needs to be read out loud it has no business being in a presentation.
The second example was a boring man who should never have been allowed near the business end of a microphone who actually left his lectern to cross to the other side of the stage and reach up to point to a number on the slide (one among hundreds) and explain what it meant. Thankfully we couldn’t hear what it was because his microphone was attached to the lectern on the other side of the stage.
If you want to give a report – print it and mail it. Its not a presentation.
The third was a woman who said she was going to tell us some stuff from last year, this year and next year and paused while the dates 2010, 2011 and 2012 appeared on the screen just in case we weren’t sure.
Don’t treat your audience members as though they are idiots
All of these people earn high salaries. All of them have help in their fancy offices from people who should know how to put a presentation together. All of them should know better.
Don’t hold your audience hostage just because they’re too polite to leave
If you expect people to give their time and attention to a speaker at your event, do us all a favour and make them deliver the presentation without Power Point first. If they can pass the test and hold an audience with what they SAY, then and only then, allow them to add slides that illustrate and punctuate the presentation and NEVER, EVER duplicate the script.
Good presenters practice. They plan and prune and work out how to make an impact. If there was a power cut they would still deliver a great presentation. They don’t need the prop of Power Point.
If you’re not a good presenter don’t think Power Point will save you. It won’t.
Excellent advice. Remember, Microsoft Word has never turned a poor writer into the next Shakespeare. Equally, Microsoft PowerPoint has never turned a bad presenter into a good one.
The problem is people's brains work in different ways. I digest data a lot quicker in picture format. Well designed slides with relevant diagrams help me understand the basis behind complicated presentations. Don't get me wrong just putting words on a slide and having whooshing slides is just as distracting as just verbal descriptions.
I'm coming in a bit late on this one but it's such a relief to read that there is a rebellion against Powerpoint out there. When I worked in the NHS and later the Civil Service there was an expectation that if you were going to deliver a presentation that it would be a PP presentation. Hours were spent developing the PP slides (without training I might add) and so by the time it came to give the thing, you were stressed out about whether the PP would work and the content/quality of the actual presentation fell into second place. It seemed the emphasis was on getting the slides deliver the message rather than the speaker! And it seemed that people judged the presentation by the whizzy slides - you know the ones that zapped in from both sides mesmerising you, played videos etc more than they remembered what the person actually said. So I'm all for a ban. Develop other tools for engaging the audience and keeping their interest. Learn how to be a good presenter and mesmirise people with what you actually have to say.
@Siobhan Costello Adding technology doesn't make anybody better at things they're not very good at without the technology (if you see what I mean) but I think in the case of PP it can actually turn a half decent presenter into a truly awful one.
PP or prezzi or others are just tools. They can be used to good effect or bad. A bad workman blames his tools because he (or she) uses them badly. Banning the tools won't help but banning the usage or certain style would or of course better training. Like many things it seems to be a big barge that takes a long time to turn around.
I like the idea of billing someone for wasting time.
@GaryDickenson Have to agree with Gary here. I produced a large PowerPoint for the BBC to use internally a few years ago and apparently one guy asked how the presentation had been made. "In PowerPoint" was the reply, but he wouldn't believe it. "I use PowerPoint all the time and it can't do that!" What had I done that was so special? Avoided using any 'special' transitions and kept it simple. Very odd.
Also, let's not forget some of the fantastic TED talks that use slides as punctuation, for laughs or to support the spoken content.
I think what @AnnHawkins is _really_ getting at is that people should think about their talks more and the slides less?
@stevedesigner @GaryDickenson Spot on Steve. Seth Godin was mentioned at last night's CamCreative and that's another great example of where slides are used to punctuate a presentation. I think the difference is, if the presentation can be given without slides and a few are added for emphasis, its always going to be better than a presentation that is reliant on the slides.
What I'd really like to see is that people shouldn't be allowed to present until they've passed a test and that I'll write the test! :)
Most people's use of the 'tools' of PowerPoint et al are like giving a baby a big fat felt tip. You turn you back and they've drawn all over the wall and their face. Tools need training.
My (large) company has a corporate style where Powerpoint is the de facto method of producing all sorts of documents, most of which end up being presented. It drives me nuts. Having said that, in a multi-national, multi-language environment like ours there are advantages to having lots of words up on the screen for recipients who are not first language English speakers, even more so in cases where the presenter is not a native speaker and/or has a heavy accent.
@clocsen You're right, but as Ann says; if people are just sitting there reading - they can do that at home, or in the office, basically anywhere but wasting time in a presentation.
@aydinstone @clocsen Frankly, Owen, I don't care who wastes your time when you are being paid to sit there. Presumably someone, somewhere in your corporation will one day wake up to the fact that things could be done more efficiently.
I do object to *my* time being wasted when no-one but me pays me to be bored, under the guise of being a *guest* of an organisation that seemingly wants my business or my support.
Agree with every word. Teaching office productivity tools in school makes me very angry.
The first reason is that any application that's taught will be out-of-date by the time the student would actually need to use it (and most schools are way behind the curve with most of their IT).
But the second reason is that office productivity tools were invented for morons to make them appear more capable.
In the old days you had a professional secretary who typed. Now any moron can do it (as long as they've got Word). You used to have to need a professional designer and photographer to create 'slides' (and they actually were photographic slides) but now any moron can create a slide from comic sans and clipart in minutes. You used to have to practice, train and have experience as an orator to be trusted and be considered worthy to deliver a talk. Now any moron is allowed to do it.
So take it further Ann. Ban the whole of MS Office and any 'tool' that makes it easier for a tool to take to the stage - without becoming a communicator first.
@aydinstone I'm actually thinking of saying; "My time is worth this much. If you insult me with a crap presentation I'm going to invoice you." Unfortunately, when I mention it to other people, although they agree that the presentations were poor they're not prepared to say anything to the organisers. It seems that its the corporate folk who are the worst offenders and I suspect its because they are given the job of presenting without the training. However, as you and @maxinemaxxy mentioned, its appalling that pupils are taught to use PP without first being taught how to communicate without it.
@AnnHawkins @maxinemaxxy I was at an event recently that had hour long presentations that read every word from bullet points on the screen. I wondered about it; could I, having been given the same information, put it across better, but still actually get the same information across. The answer was 'yes', and I'd be able to do it in half the time, and there'd be retention of the key points. The more I thought about it the more cross I became at the thought that such travesties of time wasting are acceptable.
@aydinstone @maxinemaxxy This is where I have a dilemma. Should I stand up and say "If you're going to do the whole presentation like that just mail it to me" and leave. Or is that unbearably rude? To me its no more rude than someone holding me hostage and wasting my time but the hapless presenter (often a junior) doesn't really understand this, or the organiser/host would be mortified if I were rude to their chosen presenter. I usually restrict myself to a crtique afterwards but fear I am a lone voice in the wilderness as this appalling practice shows no signs of improving.
lol love this so much ... even if it's not certain death it can be a slow painful one ... and you are absolutely right if you cannot speak or present then powerpoint won't save you.
What I hate is the way they teach powerpoint in schools. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is where some of this starts. My 13yo has a powerpoint presentation to do for science homework and can you believe my 7yo also has a powerpoint presentation to do on world war 2 !! Yeuch! I have asked them both to rehearse the phrase "mummy says that SlideRocket is better as a cloud based application with more engagement and we don't subscribe to the microsoft money making machine" ... hahaha ... I bet their teachers will love me!
@maxinemaxxy I didn't realise they got kids to use PP in school! I'm just off to tell all the presentation skills trainers I know to get in there and show them how to present to engage!