PowerPoint Presentation Pointers


How to dodge the Death by PowerPoint Syndrome

By Caroline Nderitu

Bullets kill people.

Are you murdering your audience with your bullet points? Are you killing your career, hopes and dreams one presentation at a time? Dreading the very thought of being in front of a discerning audience with those wordy corporate slides that are both trying and tiring, even for you as a presenter?

Well, you are doing it wrong then. You are missing the power and the point. Let us see if we can inject some life into your next presentation and eject the ‘Death by PowerPoint’ occurrence with these four vital clues.

It is a visual aid, not a textbook:

Swop your notes for relevant images and big numbers. The slides are meant for your audience and not you. Have your notes in your hand for reference. Not on the big screen. If it can be emailed as an attachment, do not put it up! Your slides should mean nothing without you there. Otherwise, do we really need both – you and the slides? Do not render yourself redundant by putting up slides that are self-explanatory. They came to hear you, to watch you present and to experience your professional expertise, but not for a display of your reading prowess.

“Make slides that reinforce your words, not repeat them”. – Seth Godin, Presentation guru

Overuse is tantamount to abuse:

Reduce the number of slides to a bare minimum. Focus on having less of your back to the audience. The more you put up there, the more you will turn away and give attention to your slides. This causes the rapport with your audience to dwindle. They begin to get discouraged, disinterested and disappointed. Consider the 10-20-30-rule evangelised by venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki, “A PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides twenty minutes no font smaller than thirty points.”

The audience needs to get the distinct impression that you actually took the time to work on the presentation and did not just cut-and-paste from Word.

Read your audience, not your slides:

Spend over 80% of your time engaging with your audience. Analysing their non-verbal clues and deciphering the tone of voice in their verbal messages that they are sending you. Take the time to establish deliberate eye contact and to connect genuinely with your audience. A presentation should feel like a conversation, not a monologue delivered with witnesses.

Please note: You do not need PowerPoint slides for each and every single business presentation. Sometimes they are an unnecessary inconvenience instead of a visual boost.

Take a public speaking and business presentation skills class from an expert:

Let us face it - presenting it is a skill. A skill that has to be acquired and then honed. A lot of us have actually never been taught how to create slides and present competently. Often people do not even know that they are going about the whole thing the wrong way. Nonetheless, we cannot lean on ignorance as our defence and still expect to win customers, woe investors and sway opinions. There is no need to grope in the dark during your next presentation. Learn how to make your presentation efficient, effective and engaging, but do it with an expert.


©Caroline Communications Ltd. CCL Public Speaking and Presentation Training. Nairobi, Kenya. All rights reserved.