How To Use PowerPoint To Kill Your Audience (Figuratively)

by drjim on October 5, 2010

Careful Where You Point That PowerPoint!

Careful Where You Point That PowerPoint!

Hopefully we can all agree that as a speaker, you should never start a speech with intention of killing some or all of your audience– your chances of being asked back go way done if you do. Given this, why are you still using such bad PowerPoint slides?

Shooting Bullets At Your Audience

First things first,how many things can you do at the same time?No, I mean really well? As human beings, we simply don’t do a good job of multitasking no matter how well we think that we can do it.

It turns out that when you slap that PowerPoint slide up there with all of those bullets on it, you are asking your audienceto make a decision. You are asking them to either pay attention to you or spend their precious attention reading the words on your slide. There’s really no way that you can win this game.

Titles Count

So what’s a presenter to do? I mean if you create slides, you’re going to have to put at least some words on there, right? It turns out that what you need to do is to take the time tomake every word count.

This means that, among other things, the title of your slide is nowmillion dollar waterfront property. You’ve got to pack a clear message into each title: “Status Update” is out, “Update on dramatic drop in 4th quarter profits” is in.

Build Your Own Background

The look and feel of each slide can be determined by not the words that you use, but rather bythe background that you choose. Don’t make the same mistake that everyone else does.

PowerPoint comes with a set ofstandard slide backgrounds(lots of blue in them for some reason). The problem with this is that since PowerPoint is so popular and has been around for so long, we’ve all seen all of them before. The last thing that you want to do is set your audience up to be bored starting with your first slide.

Instead, build your own backgrounds. Instead of choosing a PowerPoint provided background, instead start with a blank background and add pictures, images, and graphics to build up a unique background for each of your slides. This simple but effective technique will give your slides a powerful fresh look.

More IS Better

So how should you handle the case where you do havea lot to sayon a given slide? All too often we just bite the bullet (sorry for the pun) and pack all of the words that we want to say into a single slide and hope for the best.

A much better way of doing this is to break a single word-heavy slide up intomultiple slideswith few words on them. In the past when we were dealing with physical slides we were hesitant to do this because it would have caused a lot of physical effort to switch slides all the time. With today’s electronic slides, this is no longer an issue.

What All Of This Means For You

A reality of the world that we speak in is thatPowerPoint is here to stay. This means that you’re going to have to figure out how to make this beast work with you, not against you.

You don’t need to be a professional graphics artist to create a PowerPoint presentation that willenhance your speech. Minimizing the number of words that you use and creating custom slide backgrounds are simple and yet powerful techniques that you can use to be effective.

The great communicators of the past never had PowerPoint slides that they could use. Done correctly, just imagine howmuch more powerfulyou’ll be with good slides!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How big do you think your words should be when there are just a few of them?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Giving a great speech is one thing, understanding how tonot give a bad speechcan be something completely different. Lots of self-help books, trainers, and blogs (like this one) will show you < a title=”Back To Basics: Presentation Tips 101″ href=http://www.theaccidentalcommunicator.com/top-10-tips/back-to-basics-presentation-tips-101>a 1,000 different ways to become a better speaker, but maybe what you really need is some suggestions on what you should NOT be doing?

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