Let’s get it out of the way, Powerpoint presentations are not a great way to communicate ideas. This is especially true if you’re working on a group presentation. When creating a presentation in a group, team members have a very strong tendency to dump information into slides. This happens for several reasons, but mostly because they want to get their point across and using a lot of text allows them to be precise. As a result slides can quickly become “eye-charts” that are exactlingly correct but fail to deliver a concise message to the audience under the weight of text, bullets, embeded spreadsheets and the resulting charts.
So what can you do?
- Write a report. Seriously. Not everything needs to be a Powerpoint presentation. If you need to communicate in detail, write a report and, if needed, summarize in an executive Powerpoint presentation.
- Use a simple agenda and structure: Tell them what you’re going to tell your audience, provide the information, summarize what they’ve heard, discuss, and finally next steps.
- Don’t read the presentation. The presentation should guide the presenter through the topics, not be a word for word reading. Follow the rule of three to keep things clear and simple.
- Create a voice over. A common complaint about Powerpoint is the .ppt file can be disconnected from the presenter. When the presenter is separated from the presentation two things are likely to happen. First, you lose the presenters voice tone and inflection and as a result emphasis and subtley is removed. Second, the audience may be unable to discern what the key points of the presentation are. Tools exist (i.e. Macromedia Breeze Presenter), and work exceptionally well, if you need to give an asyncronous presentation.
- Done? Edit! Once you “complete” the presentation go back and see if you’re presentation is supporting your goals. Strip out topics that don’t add value or may lead to distraction.
- Use appendixes! Hold to your key data, but provide them as appendices in the presentation. You can even link to the appendices within the presentation to allow the presenter quick reference to data if needed (rarely happens).
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