Topic of the Week Not a Pretty Picture: Using PowerPoint Effectively
Have you ever slept through a PowerPoint presentation at your company? Join the club. PowerPoint has become the bane of most of our existence in today's workplace. Which reminds me of a Santa Clara, CA ear nose and throat surgeon's explanation that the ear has a "G-spot." It gets even better, tickling this spot can sometime coax an "eargasm," because this spot next to the eardrum is served by multiple nerve endings and paper-thin skin. Said one female client, "Everyone is afraid the first time, but after, it's 'Oh, my God!'"
If you'd like to give every audience an eargasm after experiencing your next PowerPoint presentation, then you've come to the right place. I've included three Do's and one Don't for effective PowerPoint presentations. For more, check out Booth, Shames and Desberg's book, "Own the Room" (McGraw Hill, 2010).
DON'T forget you're the key. Your message, delivery and likeability all matter more than whatever is on the screen. Don't get me wrong, the screen matters too, but don't overlook yourself as being the key part of any performance. At a minimum you probably want to practice your presentation in front of a friend or colleague who can critique your speech. I've actually hired a speech coach to help to coax the best performance out of me. Think about varying your delivery, using humor or stories to keep the presentation entertaining and giving the audience opportunities to participate.
DO use as a storyboard. In Hollywood they use storyboards to show how the story will unfold during the movie. It's a good idea to do the same when you start to construct your PowerPoint presentation. You can do this in Powerpoint, but I also have been known to use pieces of paper, so it can be easy to rearrange the order. As you build your narrative, think about pacing, how your story comes together and how to keep people interested until the very end.
DO one idea per slide. There is a tendency to over do each slide with lots of different ideas all tediously spelled out. I'm a big believer in just one idea per slide. And whenever possible I like to describe the idea without using any words, pictures can be a great way to get across your key points. For example, in a presentation I once wanted to talk about multitasking. To illustrate my point I found a computer station that was built around a toilet. It would not only make my point, but it would always get a laugh out of an audience.
DO tease. The worst example of this is people who read content directly off each slide. Don't go there. In fact, you can bring a little Gypsy Lee Rose to each presentation. No don't take off any clothing, but you can tease your audience by letting them know what's coming up later in the talk.
Follow these tips and your audience will not only experience an eargasm at your next presentation, they'll probably have an eyegasm too.
Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.org. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org