When coaching to undo a trainwreck presentation, I find myself saying the same things over and over about how to use PowerPoint slides, how to think about PowerPoint slides, and what simple mistakes to eliminate first. I summarized the best of this advice in these 10 rules to make them easier to remember.
[ Important: these Commandments apply to presentation slides only, not stand-alone or send-ahead decks. Presentation slides should only be used as visual support for the spoken narrative. If you need to send or print out slides, create a separate deck designed to stand alone. ]
I. Thou shalt not COUNT PowerPoint slides.
Forget any formula for the number or timing of slides. The number of slides is irrelevant The pacing of ideas is what’s important. Use as few or as many slides as you need to support your points and channel the flow of ideas. You are hereby free to use a rapid succession of slides to make a single point, or sole images, numbers, or even single words served up on a single slide.
II. Thou shalt not PRINT OUT PowerPoint slides.
Slides (in a presentation deck) exist to add visual support to a spoken narrative. Period. If you consciously or unconsciously write slides to do double duty as hand-outs or send-aheads, you’re sentencing yourself to a boring presentation. For two reasons. To write a piece that stands alone sans narrative, you have to put most of your script on the slides. And it discourages the use of photographs.
III. Thou shalt not use PowerPoint slides as SPEAKER’S NOTES.
Don’t put everything you want to say on the screen. No full paragraphs. Ever. Avoid full sentences. Keep text on slides terse, and rehearse a narrative that expands on the text. When slides = your script, the audience knows it. And they don’t like it.
IV. Thou shalt SHOW and TELL.
Slides enable you to deliver a rich visual experience. Plan your presentation from the outset to include images that reinforce the narrative. High-resolution photos have special power to move an audience. A well-conceived graph can make a complicated idea obvious. Words and pictures. Show and tell. [Read more…]