Give Life to Ideas With Your PowerPoint, Not Death
Some people like to trash PowerPoint and others say death by PowerPoint but I am not here to attack PowerPoint. In fact, some of my best presentations have been through PowerPoint because I use it all the time!
But let’s face it: most powerpoint presentations are awful and it puts people to sleep because it is a boring data dump. I am going to give you a few tips here: it is a quick summary of what is most important in a PowerPoint presentation. But if you want a lot more details on PowerPoint, I have an entire subcourse on PowerPoint which you can check out.
For starters, you need to realise that the PowerPoint slides are for your audience and not for you. If you just have a bunch of words and bullet points for your memory then the slides are not serving their purpose because they should be for your audience. Would you like it if someone just read to you? I have asked audiences all over the world and unanimously everyone says that they hate it. And then they find the perfect excuse to pull out their phones and check their social media. We do not want to give people the option to leave the room mentally and emotionally.
Here are the basics: one idea per slide and use images, not text. Some of you may say that what I am really saying is that the fewer words the better and that no more than three bullet points. But that is not what I am saying at all. If you want to use PowerPoint effectively, the most effective way is one idea per slide, and one image per slide. Ideally, you should not be using any text. You may be saying that I am crazy but you need to do this for it to actually work.
When you are standing up and giving a presentation to people live, it is different than if you are just emailing them your PowerPoint deck. My recommendation for you in the former scenario is to not put on a single word of text on your slide. I don’t care about your corporate culture and neither do the people in your audience who are listening to you. So it is not about me or my preference but it also is not about your corporate structure and best practices; it’s about what actually works on your audience.
Does the slide you have actually help your audience understand the message that you just said and does the slide actually help your audience remember your message more than you just explained? If it does not do either of those things, it is not helping you.
This course is about how to do it in the best way and have it be the most effective. It is not about how to just do it so you are just as mediocre as anyone else you may here speaking and find extremely boring to listen to. It is to help you with your audience and boost your reputation as a speaker. The simplest solution is to just have two PowerPoint presentations: one that you are projecting which has one image per slide and have another one with lots of text, bullet points, and complexity and email it to people or give it to them in the form of handouts. I have 4 to 5 books regarding this course but I am not reading bullet points after bullet points that are going across the screen because that would be boring. You can go back to them and read them if you are interested. If you don’t want to then you do not have to. So that is the easiest way.
Think of some of the best speakers and presenters in the world or the corporate industry. For example, most people would say Steve Jobs, the founder and former CEO of Apple. When he wanted to unveil a new product, he would not put up a huge deck of slides, instead, he would simply put up a picture of an iPod and an old fashioned flip phone to introduce the new iPhone by bringing the images together and showing a picture of the iPhone. Everyone instantly understood what the product was and it generated excitement. That is the most effective way to use PowerPoint and it does not require for you to have the marketing budget of Apple. You just need to have the mindset that you are doing this for the people and not for yourself.
I understand that is not how most people create PowerPoint in your organization but if you want to know the most effective way, this is it. My PowerPoint course delves even deeper than this when it comes to all of the details but if you follow these basics, you are going to be better than pretty much anyone your audience has seen speaking. The ultimate way to know whether it is working, of course, is to test your audience.
Before you have given your presentation to your actual audience, give it to your colleagues a couple of days before it and ask them what they remember from the slides or what the point was. If they remember anything from any slide, it proves that it works. You can keep those slides. But if they cannot remember the message on the slides, you now have empirical evidence that that slide is completely worthless. You need to take that slide, tear it up, and throw it in the trash can because it will not help you in your purpose at all.