Death by PowerPoint: 3 Ways to Combat It

I recently conducted quite a bit of research for a client on a variety of communications and presentations skills courses. The research covered 20 training offerings, including:

  • Instructor led training (in person, usually two days)
  • Online training (self-paced, available on demand)
  • Virtual classes (instructor-facilitated, where everyone participates through WebEx)
  • Videos on demand (self-paced, on demand)

The purpose of the research was to determine which courses should be incorporated into curricula for new hires joining this client’s organization. The providers of the courses ranged from Harvard Managementor and Skillsoft, to individuals who have developed their own content, to companies such as Mandel Communications and Simitri Group International.

Boring Presentation.Whether you enjoy giving presentations or not, they are a fact of professional life in the 21st century. Everyone agrees that no one wants to experience death by PowerPoint when sitting through a presentation. You want your presentation to be a memorable one. One that drives action and results.

Without having to take any of the courses (much less all 20), here are three tips you can apply to your next presentation now:

  • Start with the action you want the audience to take. Tell them at the beginning what you want the outcome to be. If the conversation gets derailed along the way, you were clear from the outset. You begin with the end in mind. All of your content aligns with your desired end result.
  • Select images wisely. People remember the images on your slides more than the words you say. Follow all copyright and legal requirements for the images. Avoid clip art!
  • Use few bullets and few words. When you do have to use them, use very large font sizes – some say no smaller than 30 points. Start bullets with action verbs. Keep sentences short. Avoid complex tables and graphs when people cannot read the data.

Applying this advice from the experts will help ensure your audience engages with you when you present. Even if your time is cut short, you have a much higher likelihood of achieving your goal(s) from the presentation.

What most effective advice would you add to this list, based on your experience?

Betsy Winkler is a Partner at PeopleResults. She can be reached on Twitter @BetsyWinkler1 or on email at Sign up to receive her and her colleagues’ blog at Current.