Most of us have experienced ‘death by PowerPoint’ at some stage. You know, when you're presented with slide after slide of seemingly-boring content. There are endless bullet points of baffling jargon. They’re normally badly structured and badly formatted.
The result? The audience’s eyes glaze over. They begin glancing at their smartphones. They take regular trips to the bathroom. Or, they become so distracted by reading slides that they don’t hear a word the speaker says.
Eventually, they leave feeling confused about the presentation's purpose. And the speaker? Well, they haven't achieved a thing. It's an hour of everyone's precious time wasted.
But, before we all start pointing the finger at PowerPoint, perhaps we should ask ourselves if we are in fact giving the software a bad name. After all, the old saying goes, ’a bad workman always blames his tools’.
Like anything, we only get out of PowerPoint what we put in. So, in that sense, you could say that PowerPoint is no more to blame for a dull presentation than Word is to blame for a badly-written book.
The fact is, without persuasive storytelling, a logical structure and confident delivery, even the flashiest, best-designed slide deck won't keep an audience engaged.
The traditional way of using PowerPoint is no longer acceptable. For too long, many of us have used it as a teleprompter instead of a visual aid to guide and emphasise a story.
But it doesn't have to be this way. There is a smarter way to engage an audience using exactly the same tool. The time has come to breathe new life into vapid PowerPoint presentations.
Start by asking yourself three important questions:
What’s the purpose of your presentation?
What do you want your audience to do because of your presentation?
What messages will help you to achieve that?
Then, follow these five simple steps for priming your content:
Create a text document. Never send PowerPoint to do Word’s job! Create a standalone, detailed document that fully explains your concepts and ideas. You can offer this to your audience as a handout once you've completed the presentation.
Create a presentation. Use the main titles from your document as headlines within your presentation.
Create speaker notes. Build these from the text within your document. Read them aloud. Change any formal language to suit your own speaking style. Emphasise your key points.
Insert images. Replace some or all of your presentation text with strong images that support the narrative and help to create an emotional connection. This will ensure your key points are remembered.
Check your timing. Consider how much presentation time you have. Review your slides and decide what to focus on and what to omit. As a rough guide, each slide represents two minutes of speaking time. Finally, allow plenty of time to rehearse.
By taking these simple steps to prepare your content, your audience will walk away from your presentation with a clearer understanding of your objective and a feeling of satisfaction.
Add to that a professional-looking design, and you will transform your presentation into something incredible—something that truly wows your audience and brings your story to life.
Need help reviving your presentation slides? Slidemaster is a boutique presentation design agency. Our team of experts can bring your stories to life through powerful and engaging presentations. If you're ready to inspire, win-over and educate your audience, contact us today!