How to avoid ‘death by PowerPoint’

Posted on Thursday, May 1st, 2014 by

We have all witnessed ‘death by PowerPoint’. It’s normally endured in a business context or, even worse, at a social occasion like a wedding speech, when the best man has clearly gone to town on a PowerPoint presentation that is 100 slides worth of pure cringe.

So why has PowerPoint become such a dirty word that is met with a low-level hatred? PowerPoint tempts us with snazzy backgrounds, a plethora of fancy fonts and loads of animation and transitions to play with, but it’s not mandatory to use these.

You hold the key to creating an engaging and compelling presentation!

Confidence is critical

A confident presenter will often only use minimal presentation support. Your slides should complement what you are saying. 

Audiences love to hear stories being told by another person. With presentations, we are looking to enhance and support our core messages. However, this is often confused with putting your entire script on the screen. That’s lazy and screams a lack of confidence or understanding in what you really need to present.

Public speaking is in the top 10 of things people hate to do. Overcome this by simply focusing on the five key messages you want to communicate. Practise them, learn them off by heart and have confidence and belief in what you are saying. If you’re not confident, then your audience will feel your negative, sweaty aura! 

Utilise the abundance of great presentation techniques available on the web. TED talks are a great way of learning how the very best presenters engage and communicate on all levels across all sorts of subjects.

Once you are clear on what you want to say, consider how best to support this on screen.

Map out your presentation

  • If you are presenting a new product and its benefits, focus the slide content to illustrate only what you cannot talk about or demonstrate physically with the product. If the key technology is hidden inside the product, then the money slide will be the one that illustrates this, either as a flat graphic or, even better if budget allows, a sexy 3D animation.
  • Beware of using humour in a presentation. What you find funny, your intended audience may not. It’s a great way to lose the pitch before you’ve even got to slide two.
  • To help keep the audience engaged, consider including a short piece of relevant video content. This could be a vlog or industry opinion on the benefits your product or service, adding important context to your message.

Keep your slides clean and relevant

  • Design is very subjective, but what Apple has successfully demonstrated time and time again is that clean and uncluttered design works.
  • Replace horrid bullet points with a quote, a nicely considered piece of typography or a relevant and powerful image. Full-screen images to help the audience follow your story or to change the mood.
  • Make sure you keep your slide and presentation content relevant to the audience. Keep them engaged with constant reminders of how your product or service will benefit them. If you’re bored or uninspired by what you are saying, imagine how your audience feels.
  • Make sure you have the killer slide in your deck. This slide will summarise or visualise your proposition efficiently and leave no room for confusion. It will clearly list the benefits to the client.

Smile and your audience will smile with you

  • Keep the energy levels high, smile and have total belief in yourself, your product and your presentation support material.
  • Maintain as much eye contact with your audience as possible, without straying into the realms of creepy by staring wildly at the poor soul who happens to be sitting closest to you.
  • Be prepared to be flexible. Don’t fall to pieces if you cannot present all 10 slides in order, the client wants you to skip around your presentation on the day or the Wi-Fi packs up! Know your product or subject off by heart so you can be confident in your delivery.
  • If your boss only gives you 24 hours to create a presentation, this is even more reason to keep the slide count and graphics to a minimum. Spend more time rehearsing what is actually going to sell the product or service.

How Outlook can help

We have been enhancing presentations for many years for a range of blue-chip companies and SMEs across all industry sectors.

We treat each brief as unique. From our creative in-house capabilities, you’ll have access to a full range of dynamic interactive digital tools including animation, video and top-quality presentation design, including the use of bespoke infographics.

Get in touch for a no obligation quotation and advice on how to enhance your presentation.