Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Death By PowerPoint: Don’t Become Another Speaking Statistic

We’ve all heard the expression “death by PowerPoint.”

People acknowledge it, laugh about it, and hate it when in an audience, but, yet …. Many continue to be guilty of doing it themselves!

How can presenters avoid this?

Here are my 10 tips for avoiding Death by PowerPoint:

1) Write your presentation first, then look to see where you can add PowerPoint to reinforce the message. Keep in mind, a slide deck isn’t a presentation.

2) Add graphics, rather than bullet points, wherever possible. When words are necessary, it’s OK to use them, but avoid paragraphs.

3) Limit the content on the slides. If your audience needs the slides in advance, or as a take-home learning tool, then give them a file with more detail -- but for the actual presentation, pare down the content.

4) Avoid too many “bells and whistles” (like different font colors/sizes, charts, etc.). The focus needs to on the information, not the slide.

5) Get comfortable with the “B” key. While in PowerPoint mode, hit the “B” key on your computer. The screen will turn black or go blank. I like to think that the B stands for BRODY. Occasionally, go blank, so you change up what you’re doing – move around more and facilitate discussion.

6) Create a list of all slides – have one sheet of paper with the slide number and title of each slide. This allows you to cut slides if time is an issue, or to jump back and forth on the slide deck. Do this by hitting the “slide number” then hit “enter.” So, assume you are on slide 10, and you want to go back to slide 3. Hit “3’ and then “enter.”

7) Practice using the slides so that you are comfortable with timing and flow.

8) Arrive early and position yourself so that the screen is to your (speaker’s) left. People read from left to right. Make it easy for the audience.

9) Open and close with a blank screen to create and keep rapport with the audience.

10) Keep in mind – less is more. Trust me ... rarely, if ever, have audience members said, “Oh good, another slide.”

Always remember, be prepared to speak without any slides all in case of a technical glitch.

The best speakers can deliver their messages with power, impact and persuasion, without any slides at all.

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