I thought the days of bad PowerPoint presentations were over. I thought the 100’s (1,000’s?) of articles and posts about avoiding Death by PowerPoint were enough to stop the madness. I was wrong.
Recently, I’ve been on the receiving end of a steady flow of bad PowerPoints:
- The 37-slide(!) monstrosity that doesn’t know what it’s trying to say, so it just drones on with countless photos, graphics, and three-letter-acronyms (TLA’s) in a futile attempt to baffle the audience
- The same 37-slide deck that starts off with three or four slides telling me how I’m an awful human being because I’m a businessman, and then expects me to continue watching the remaining 30-plus slides
- The 15-slide deck that starts with a quirky animation of the title page, and brings in sound effects on slide four, that have nothing to do with anything…other than showing-off the presenter’s awesome skills with PowerPoint
- The 10-slide deck that had a series of graphs and charts that might be making a point, but that point is obscured by the blizzard of graphics
- Slides that have seven bullet points with multiple sentences per bullet point.
I could go on, but I’ve probably lost you already…
Here’s some key points to remember for your PowerPoint presentation, especially if you’re selling me something like an idea, a product, or a service…in other words, anything (in no particular order):
- Less is more. My attention span is pretty short. You’ll start losing me by about slide five. I’m totally checked out by slide seven, and I’m thinking about all the other things I could be doing by slide ten.
- Slides should have no more than 4-5 bullets, and no more than 4-5 words per bullet. Want more words or bullets? Put them in the appendix, or give me a one-two-page note that has all the words. That way I’ll have something I can file with all the other stuff I’m not reading.
- Statistics, photos and graphics? I should be able to fully understand their meaning in 10 seconds. If you get this right, you can make a huge impact. Get it wrong, and you lost me…maybe for good.
- Got any slides where you’ll have to show me around for a while to help me understand you and your message? Dump them. I don’t have the patience for you to show me around your slide. I should fully understand your slide in 10 seconds.
- Please know why you’re showing me your presentation. What’s your point? What do I need to know? What action should I be taking? Why? Get to it quickly. Think elevator pitch.
- If we get a conversation going, don’t worry if we don’t get through all the slides you brought. The conversation is the thing, not your presentation.
Pique my interest, and get me asking questions. Create a conversation, and maybe your presentation will lead us to something great.
Otherwise, I’ve already forgotten what you were presenting and why it mattered.