Speakers love to criticize PowerPoint. I was one of them. I’m not any longer.
I knew we were PowerPointed out but I didn't realize it was this bad. A recent survey released by Sliderocket indicated that 24% of people polled for a new study said they'd rather give up having sex tonight than have to sit through yet another PowerPoint presentation tomorrow. 32% of those polled have fallen asleep during a presentation, 20% dozed off so often that they've lost count. It seems like PowerPoint may quickly become the new birth control. Public speakers unite! Either throw away your PowerPoint or learn to do it better. As a speaking strategist, I've discovered that too many speakers allow the slides to lead them by the nose. It's time to take charge. The key word in Visual Aid is AID! YOU are the visual.
Here are some of the most common mistakes I see:
- Reading the slides. I can read as well as you can. If you read word-for-word, you'll lose credibility. Experts use the slide as a backdrop and add value from their knowledge base.
- Talking and changing the slides. Again, are you leading the presentation or is it leading you? Come to the end of a sentence, pause, advance the slide, and then introduce your next point.
- No transitions. This will make you sound choppy. Write out your transitions in advance. They can be statements or questions.
- Too much text. Get rid of the sentences. Substitute photos, pictures, charts, graphs, cartoons, symbol, and key words or phrases.
- Busy, cluttered slides. Too much content is distracting. Aim for lots of white space.
- Small font. If people have to squint, the font is too small. For titles use 36 points and for bullets use 32 points for maximum readability.
I'll bet the number one reason people are bored with PowerPoint is they're not engaged. The speaker is a talking head. You can be more effective when you use PowerPoint to engage the audience. Ask a question and then flash the correct answer. Tell a story and then flash a picture. Create a dialogue, engage people, and let PowerPoint fade into the background. When the speaker takes center stage that's when the magic happens.