Death By PowerPoint! – 2019 Edition

So I looked it up: Death by PowerPoint is a phenomenon caused by the poor use of presentation software. Key contributors to death by PowerPoint include confusing graphics, slides with too much text and presenters whose idea of a good presentation is to read 40 slides out loud

Power Point just always seem to have had a bad reputation and is synonymous with corporate life, dreary meetings and buzzword bingo! It's 2019 and we still use the 'death by..' expression : haven't we learnt anything; haven't presentations progressed on at all? It's a subject close to my heart as I deliver hundreds of workshops and I'm gonna put my head above the parapet and say that there is still a real place for 'PP' - but just not as we currently know it!

I hate the dullness and laziness of it as much as anyone so here are a few things that I have done over the years to dispel the stereotypes and prejudice surrounding the PowerPoint presentation:

  • Firstly, you don't really need agendas and you don't need to do the awful 'tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you've told them'! It's very dreary. If I tell you what I'm going to tell you then I spoil some of the surprises and it also helps you to work out from the beginning which bits you're going to decide to listen to and which bits to tune out of!

  • Then, how about a bit of colour: perhaps even one or two bits of sensible animation (not awful clip art) to distract from the boring black font on a white background.

  • PowerPoint was never your script - you need two sets of slides: One for the presentation you show them ('presenters slides') and one for the one you send them afterwards ('next day slides'). The former doesn't have thousands of words on that you read off because you're too nervous to ad-lib. The latter presentation should have the additional narrative/commentary in the notes section that makes up for the lack of words in your presenters slides. To enforce that point, if you really must put one of those terrible business models up as a visual then you really must know that it means nothing to people when they see it the next day - unless there are some additional notes that go with it.

  • A lot of the detail up there on that screen or in the fine print of that bar chart really doesn't belong in your 'presenters slides'. This is the sort of 'nice to know' info that I send as an appendix afterwards with the 'next day' slides.

  • Oh, and your end slide doesn't need to say 'Thank You'! - a) You'll probably remember to say that without the prompt and b) Books don't end that way do they so leave them with something memorable, surprising or interesting (as opposed to repeating what you have already said earlier).

So let's start challenging some of those well-worn points that are designed to 'do PowerPoint down' as a necessary evil. Who the hell decided, for example, that slides can only have a maximum of six bullet points with a maximum of six words on each one! If I need to have more, I'll have more as long as its readable, in context, helps the flow of my storytelling and gets the audience what they need and want. Some of these cliché 'pieces of advice' don't make for amazing presentations - there are no easy fixes but hopefully my suggestions can bring some reality to your 2019 business meetings and boost impact a little.