Tag Archives: presentation

Spare Me Your Bad PowerPoints

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.

The Most Important Strategy Presentation You’ll Ever Make

You’ve figured out how to ask real strategic questions .  You and your team have used those strategic questions to layout your strategy for next month, next year, maybe even the year after that.

You’re working on the big strategy presentation for your boss, and his boss.  You have 30-45 minutes to present.  It has to be perfect.  Your PowerPoint slides need to be crisp, concise, and informative.  Most of all, they must smoothly convey the sheer mastery of your team’s strategy.

You rehearse with your management team.  You adjust and tweak each word, each number, and every bullet point on your slides.  You gather as much supporting information as you can to support your conclusions.  You write out every question you can anticipate, and make sure you have a clear and effective response for each one.  You are ready.

Your company’s dress code is business casual, but it’s tradition that you wear a coat and tie for these annual strategy presentations.  Your preparation pays off.  You deliver a brilliant strategy presentation.  There are a few questions thrown your way, but you’ve anticipated every one of them.  Your boss, and his boss, are clearly impressed and excited to offer their support for your strategy.

You gather your team for a short post-presentation update meeting.  You congratulate your team for all of the work they’ve done on the presentation.  High fives all around!

Was this the most important strategy presentation you’ll ever make?  It probably seemed like it, with all of the hard work and sleepless nights that went into it.  But, it definitely wasn’t the most important.

Having your manager’s support for your strategy is a big deal.  But, your manager, and his manager, won’t do much to help you deliver on the brilliant strategic vision you and your team have laid out.

Remember all the time and energy that went into your perfect presentation?  Imagine if you spent even half of that time and energy preparing for, and presenting to, your customers and your employees.

The most important strategy presentation you’ll ever make is to the people who will deliver on your strategy…your customers, your direct reports, and everyone who works within your organization.

It’s not a one-time event that lasts 30-45 minutes.  It’s a never-ending conversation that should be happening with your customers, and across all levels of your organization…every day.