(By Randy Lane) When I look back on my early PowerPoint slides, I cringe. Not only did I use the slides as notes, but every slide looked the same. No wonder people left the room!
Admit it. We’ve all experienced those PowerPoint presentations that rival Ambien (without the side effects).
In a previous “Coaching Tip,” I noted that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos banned PowerPoint presentations from all meetings in favor of a “briefing document.” He argued that a document is more efficient because people can read faster than a speaker can talk.
I understand his logic, but I maintain that PP is still a viable tool if executed correctly.
The next time you’re asked to present at the local chamber, at a convention, or even an important staff meeting, avoid these common snooze-inducing mistakes and your PowerPoint will become an effective co-presenter.
10 Mistakes That Make PowerPoint Boring
- Reading slides and using them for notes. “You” are the presentation. The purpose of slides is to support and illustrate your points. Put more time into planning, and use note cards to stay on track.
- Using too many slides. Create a few great slides that will help your ideas stick.
- Too much text. The rule is no more than six words on a slide. Challenging!
- No pictures or videos. Pictures and videos connect with people and create an emotional response. You could tell the audience about how devastating an oil spill is on sea life or you could show them a picture of a pelican covered in oil.
- Talking over a new slide. Pause for a few seconds to allow the audience to absorb the slide.
- Talking and walking during important points. You will divide the audience’s attention. It’s okay to talk and walk during transitions and minor points.
- Cluttered slides. Use a generous amount of white space to make your visuals and words stand out.
- Decorative images. Action images insure impact. You could show a bike to underscore your idea that exercise is important, but someone riding a bike connects.
- Not using the Rule of Thirds. Placing an image in the middle of the screen is uninteresting. People’s eyes usually go to the right.
- Too many statistics. Numbers are difficult to grasp unless they’re used in comparison. When Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, he didn’t say, “The iPod has five gigabytes.” He painted a picture by saying, “A thousand songs in your pocket.”
Bonus point: Avoid giving handouts to the audience before or during your presentation. This invites distraction because they’ll be reading instead of paying attention to you. Hand them out at the end.
Garr Reynolds’ book Presentation Zen is an excellent resource for designing and delivering presentations.
Randy Lane launched his media talent coaching and personal brand development company in 1996. He can be contacted by phone at 805-497-7177 or email at [email protected].