Do you automatically open your Power Point templates every time you get ready for a business presentation or speech? Power Point has become the medium of choice of speakers giving business presentations today yet most audiences will say they don’t like it.
Here are 7 common barriers to making your Power Point presentations work for your audiences and how to overcome them.
The starting point for every presentation you write is to ask the question: “What does the audience care about?” The answer must be about a pain or difficult situation they are facing and how you can help them face it. Once you know the answer, you can overcome the barriers to bad Power Point presentations.
#1) Too many bullets: You load your slides with bullets because you don’t want to forget something that the audience needs to know.
Solution: Be ruthless in examining whether they really need to know it all. They will not be tested on your content. Remember these sayings still apply: “less is more” and “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
#2) Bullets are too long: You write full sentences with two or three thoughts in each one.
Solution: Make your bullets short and comprised of only nouns and adjectives. “Highest quality help desk” says a lot more than “We offer highly trained help desk staff and the help desk is staffed 18 hours per day.”
#3) Complicated graphics: your graphics depict every detailed step you would talk about if you were training someone in the process.
Solution: Get way to up to 50,000 feet. Your audience will get the lay of the land. Then you spend your speaking time making the full story interesting and compelling and based on your expertise.
#4) Too much information: you are presenting not teaching
Solution: Go back to your answer to the question “What does the audience care about?” Then only give them the information that provides a solution to the thing they care about. No history or an overview or the background. Just the content that is narrowly focused on addressing their current problem or issue.
#5) Special effects: the IT folks who developed Power Point get their job satisfaction from creating more bells and whistles.
Solution: Special effects belong in movies not in your presentation. They force you to distort your expertise and ruin your ability to deliver a compelling presentation that works for your audience (see “What does your audience care about?”). Keep it simple-no builds, no flying text, just lots of white space surrounding your carefully thought out short list of short bullets.
#6) Hard to see: there’s a huge difference between what looks great on your computer and what projects well.
Solution: Use the tried and true rules of the road: fonts 12 point or larger; no italics; light text on dark background; large graphics and photos; non-custom colors.
#7) Badly presented: Even the best written power point deck can fail to move the audience if the presenter is poor.
- Speak only about what you know
- Double the amount of time you think you need to practice
- Do not use pointers. If you must call attention to something on the screen, gesture towards it with your hand.
- Remember: you are the presentation and the slide deck is your back up. Speak towards the audience and tell them what is important or interesting
#7.5) Using slides when you don’t need them: Not every bit of your spoken content needs to be covered by a slide.
Solution: Insert some blank blue slides into your deck at the places when you’re going to tell a story or use a prop or invite audience participation
Bonus Tip: What would happen if you tried to overcome just one of these barriers in your very next presentation? You would see an immediate improvement. Then you would start overcoming the rest of the barriers, one by one until you are writing and delivering Power Point presentations that make your audiences happy.
Written by: Susan Trivers