We Still Need Good PowerPoint in 2012

by Sharlyn Lauby on December 29, 2011

I’ve seen a lot of people calling for the end of PowerPoint. Who could blame them? There’s plenty of painful PowerPoint out there – we all know that. But, like it or not, there aren’t a lot of good alternatives.

There’s an often-quoted statistic that over 30 million PowerPoint presentations are done each day.  Yep – 30 million.  It only seems logical to me, if that many presentations are happening, somewhere along the way people would spend some training, trainer, presentation, presentations, PowerPointtime to learn how to use PowerPoint as an effective presentation tool.  Because that’s what it is…a tool.

PowerPoint is not a substitute for learning the material before you present, not a stand-in for handouts, and not an alternative for taking meeting minutes.  PowerPoint is something that can add polish to your presentations and make them come alive . . . but only if solid content and presentation skills are already there.

Want to make the most of your next PowerPoint presentation?  Here are 3 tips to consider:

Less is More – this is my favorite because a small amount of PowerPoint proficiency can often translate into flashy, cluttered slides with rollercoaster transitions. Give your audience a break.

Highlight Key Points – If something is critical, make it stand out so people will remember it (or Tweet it).

Break the Monotony – a dozen slides packed with bullets will lull your audience into slumber. Mixing slide types using images, video, background colors – or even just a blank slide – will wake up the crowd.

The key to developing a PowerPoint presentation is to put yourself in the seats of your audience.  That is, if you had to sit and listen to you…with your PowerPoint.  Would you be sitting up attentively listening and taking notes?  OR would you be slouched over tweeting your peeps about how much longer you have to endure the pain?

Companies, and the designated presenters within them, could really do themselves a favor by adhering to the ‘less is more’ philosophy when it comes to PowerPoint.  After all, the key is to transfer your knowledge. Preferably to a receptive audience.

Image courtesy of Mediaspin

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david k waltz December 29, 2011 at 5:45 am

Sharlyn,

Many expect a powerpoint slide dect that will function as a handout – with very detailed bullet points, etc.

Do you have any suggestions about how to address this expectation?
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Jeff Jackson December 29, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Wow! 30 millon. I had no idea. Your tips on PowerPoint are spot on.

We just started using Prezi for our media training and executive communications skills training seminars. Love it.

RE: expectations that the PowerPoint will act as a handout – we advise our clients not to try. Create both – an effective presentation and an effective handout.

Thanks for the post Sharlyn!
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Sharlyn Lauby December 30, 2011 at 9:11 am

Thanks for the comments. I’ve heard good things about Prezi – will have to give it a test drive.

And I agree with separating handouts and slides. It makes a huge difference and clients really appreciate it.

Gillian January 2, 2012 at 4:44 am

30 million is an unbelievable number – wow. It’s true that in most workplaces, PowerPoint is not going to go away, but these are helpful ways to make the presentations more useful and less boring to your captive audience. Less is more, thank you!

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