I came across a recent copy of CIO magazine, and as I flipped through it I found it had some articles that were interesting even to a marketing guy.
I especially liked a piece by Editor in Chief Maryfran Johnson about how poor use of PowerPoint can kill an otherwise promising presentation. She tells the story of a conference where a CIO strolled on stage, told a humorous anecdote that caught the audience’s attention, and then “picked up the clicker, lashed himself to the mast of an absolutely stupefying, bullet-point-ridden PowerPoint deck and sank like a stone.” Who hasn’t seen this happen? You begin squirming in your seat, start checking your email, and finally duck out to see if another presentation is any better.
As an executive coach notes later in the story, PowerPoint has become a crutch for people who need to give a presentation and don’t know the material that well.
While I think that’s true, I also think people just find it too easy to simply list bullet points on a page and read them off to the audience. New rule: if the audience can read it, you don’t need to. I try to elaborate on what’s on the screen, not repeat it.
Here are some other tips in the article:
- “Storyboard” or brainstorm your presentation on paper first. I find my ideas flow better when they’re written by hand, and I’m not caught up in the mechanics of banging things out on a keyboard.
- Use striking images to illustrate your themes. Lots of low-cost photos and illustrtions are available at istockphoto.com.
- Use bullet points as the exception, not the rule.
- Know your story and supporting details enough that you don’t need to look at the slides.
For more help, pick up Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery.
Drop me a line with your tips for a good presentation.