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Feb 24 2010

PowerPoint – The Root of all Evil

A few weeks ago, I was asked to come up with a strategy for departmental reporting and dashboards.I’ve let it simmer in my head for a while until it was thought through before knocking up a presentation. At my place of work, the default presentation tool is the cursed Microsoft PowerPoint.

Why cursed, you might ask?

Well, I’ve been in meetings where people just read verbatim from every slide more often than not crammed with what seems to be a small novel. Then there are people that are obsessed with all of those animations and sounds and sit there clicking away like they have obsessive-compulsive disorder to make it all work. Others fill their slides with heaps of tiny graphs with disparate colours and possibly no understanding of the statistical meaning of what is being presented.

If you’re lucky, your PowerPoint executioner will not display all of these traits but every now and then, you’ll come across a triple threat.

Ugh.

There is hope for us though. Just over a year ago, I attended an Influential Presentation Skills program facilitated by Michelle Bowden. Now I must admit that I have had to do maybe three or four presentation since then which is not that many (at least in my opinion). Having said that, many important messages have stuck with me since then of which some were:

  1. If you are presenting in an auditorium or large meeting room, deploy only the amount of seats required to seat everyone. This will help keep everyone together and up the front rather than scattered everywhere towards the rear of the room.
  2. Don’t split audience attention between yourself and the screen. Turn and face the slide projection when wanting attention to be drawn to it. Then blank it out (by pressing B on the keyboard) so all eyes are back on you before you elaborate.
  3. Three points per slide and three slides per hour. I still struggle with this for some items but I’m getting there.

The above is just the tip of the iceberg ad there were many more concepts covered over the two day program which I couldn’t do much justice here. At any rate, I would strongly encourage you to check out the Introductory Influential Presentation Skills program as well as her blog.

Honestly, I think people need a license to have PowerPoint installed on their work computer let alone use it if they don’t know how to use it sensibly. Technology is great if wielded properly but can otherwise bore you to tears in the wrong hands.

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