As promised, here is a summary of a presentation I gave to the Greater Medina Chamber last week.
PowerPoint is an incredibly powerful tool – when used well. When used poorly, it is just BORING. In the past, I was taught to put everything on a slide, including our logo and “all rights reserved” at the bottom. Each slide had a header and a footer, and then we would cram as much text as possible into the slide. The idea was, when they took the slides as the handout, they would have all the information. I now know that thinking is completely WRONG.
Instead, your PowerPoint is to enhance your presentation. We all learn in different ways so the slides add a visual backdrop for your presentation. The key here is backdrop. YOU are the focus. YOU provide the content and the information. If you are just going to read to me, knock it off. I read faster than you talk. Send me an email. I’ll get to it – I promise.
One big hurtle I’ve had with the idea of PowerPoint being a backdrop was the handout at the end. I wanted a scenario where I was vital to the experience of the program, but if someone wanted the information as reference or to share with a friend, they could. Enter “Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery” by Garr Reynolds. The obvious answer? Create the handout as a DOCUMENT. Put all your information into a document form with as much detail and information as you like, with headers and other ways to quickly find what they need. Now, you are free to really use PowerPoint for the tool it can be.
Once you’ve written your handout, design your presentation. Slides become large pictures with few words to convey your meaning. There are no titles, logos, or disclaimers because they aren’t necessary anymore. One comment Reynolds makes is, you would never start every conversation with your name, so why start a slide with your logo?
Outline your flow and what information you want to provide. Then create slides that support that mission. You don’t need to put all the information on the slides because it is in the handout so think in terms of what is engaging, what will enhance your presentation and what will keep the audience’s attention.
For more on these concepts, I highly recommend checking out the Presentation Zen blog and book. Hope to see a change in your PowerPoints!
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