Friday, July 25, 2008

Powerless and Pointless

Some people believe that in order to have a great presentation you have to have great skill and great slides. But what does that mean? Some people believe that it means that we need to have more of something. But more of what?

A successful presentation doesn't need more, but rather less. If we want our presentations to be more powerful, we need to present less material. If we want our PowerPoint slides to have more impact, we need to have less on them. It reminds me of something Jesus said. "…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant." He also said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." It sounds like a contradiction, but it is essential to understand this. Power-less is actually more powerful. Less slide points (point-less) is actually more meaningful.

Dave Paradi, MBA and co-author of the Guide to PowerPoint, did a few studies on what makes for poor slide presentations. He found that the most serious problems centered around overloaded text slides, and ill-prepared presenters.

The best approach to good slide and presentation design is to keep it simple.
  • Keep the talk on-point. It should have a single objective and a single message.
  • Do not rely on the slide to do the talking. The slide only illustrates what you are saying.
  • Consider your audience. A message to friends is very different than one for total strangers.
  • And last, consider the tone. Are you trying to persuade, inform, or entertain? Whichever it is, be clear, and focused. Don't change the tone or message mid-stream. You will only create confusion.
And one last thing. Be at peace. Most people want to hear what you have to say. Treat your audience like you care about them, and serve them. It will go a long way in increasing the power of your presentations.

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