On Friday I attended a conference on the future of the Australian wine industry. Some terrific presentations but some just awful. It amazes me that 18 years after the product was invented, people still don’t understand the basics of giving a Powerpoint Presentation. Some of these people are in senior executive roles; do they never get any training? Heads up, executive dummies:
Put your company logo subtly on every screen.
Put your name on about the first screen and your name and contact details on the last.
Don’t put sentences on a slide. A short phrase MAY be all right.
Don’t put more than 5 lines on a slide.
Don’t use more than two different fonts on a slide.
Don’t use more than two graphics on a slide.
Black Times New Roman on a white background makes you look BORING.
Don’t look at the screen and read your slides. For God’s sake.
Going to black and just talking for a while adds drama.
Don’t make it really long.
And here’s one I want to talk about in more detail. Be prepared to present WITHOUT your slides. As one presenter began talking his slides started cycling through too quickly. He had some visual gags in there and the technical problem thoroughly demolished his attempts at humour. Then the slides cycled through another seven or eight times before the problem was sorted. This was SO distracting his presentation lost all focus. What he should have done was turn to the people managing the presentation and say “stop it, I’ll talk without the slides”. The poor man ended up a victim of his own presentation.
Presentation Zen is Garr Reynolds’ fabulous blog that analyses Powerpoint Presentations and coaches people in how to do it better. Thoroughly recommended. I have a friend in Sydney who coaches in this area too. Contact details available on request.
So that’s that. I’m going to finish with two non-software do’s and dont’s.
Don’t DO NOT run over time. I know you love the sound of your own voice and your presentation is the biggest news since 9-11 but it is an act of extreme selfishness to run over time.
If you’re asked to shorten your presentation, do it. The audience appreciate it. Don’t be like one of our presenters who acknowledged he’d been asked to shorten his presentation then launched into a long, self-indulgent spiel about how he got started in the industry. Everyone in the room hated him for it.