Mastering The PowerPoint Beast In 3 Easy Steps

by drjim on August 17, 2010

There's No Need To Fear PowerPoint, Show It Who's Boss!

There’s No Need To Fear PowerPoint, Show It Who’s Boss!

Can we all be honest here? PowerPoint is a part of everyone’s life no matter how you feel about it. We all seem to fall into one of three camps: we fear it, we love it too much, or we just don’t really know what to do with it. With a little help, I think that I can help you out here…

Get Your Head Straight

The first thing to work out isn’t what your slides need to look like, rather it’s what role PowerPoint should play in your next speech. The answer is, always, a supporting role.

This means that you need to make sure that your audience doesn’t end up spending your entire speech looking at your slides and not you. Likewise, you don’t want your slides to confuse your audience – almost as if they are telling a different story than what you are talking about.

Speech First, Slides Second – Or Third

If you only remember one thing from reading this, I’m hoping that this is it: always, always write your speech first. Don’t you dare pop open that copy of PowerPoint and start creating slides until AFTER you’ve gotten your words all worked out. Remember: the slides are there to support your speech, not the other way around.

I fully understand just how easy it is to instead of picking up a pen (or a keyboard) and spending some time doing the hard job of writing (unfun) that you open PowerPoint and spend a lot of time drawing (fun!) The problem with this is that you’ll end up creating a lousy speech.

When your words have to follow your slides, the slides will take center stage and you’ll be shoved off into a corner. There won’t be a natural flow to your words. Instead it will appear as though you are just reading off of each slide as it is displayed. This is no way to give a speech.

Slides Are Like Diamonds – They Should Be Rare

Sadly I suspect that at one time or another we’ve all had to sit though one of those speeches where the presenter showed up with like 300 slides and come hell or high water, they were going to show each and every one of them to us.

After you’ve created your speech and when you start to design some slides, you need to make sure that you don’t turn into that person with 300 slides. A good way to prevent it is to take a step back and look at your speech. What is the main point that you are trying to make? You should probably have a slide for that. What are the three ways that you support the main point that you are trying to make? You should probably have slides for those. If you can stop here, that would be a good thing.

Cut Down On The Slides That You Have

The last thing that you’re going to want to do is to throw away some of your slides. “What?” you say. You heard me, you’ve got too many slides. I don’t care which ones you throw away, just get rid of some of them – they can’t all be critical to the message that you are trying to make.

This may be difficult for you to do, but do it anyway. Your audience will benefit from it and they’ll thank you in the end.

What All Of This Means For You

Repeat after me “PowerPoint is my friend”. It can be an important tool that can make your next speech even more powerful; however, you have to know how to use it.

The key things to keep in mind are simple, but critical. You must remember to write your speech before you start to create slide. You have to keep the number of slides that you make to a minimum. Finally, you need to make a second pass and throw away as many slides as you possibly can.

Adding multimedia to your next presentation can only make it better. Just remember, you are the star of the show, not your slides!

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

Question For You: How many slides should you use for a 30 minute speech?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Have you ever gone to hear someone speak and just been blown away by what they had to say? I mean their words just seemed to flow out of them and the stories that they told were right on the mark – a perfect complement to the point that they were trying to make? It turns out that you can deliver speeches like this too…

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