5 Steps to Prevent Death By PowerPoint

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1. Number of slides

If you are making a Sales Presentation, I’d limit yourself to six slides. If you can’t sell yourself in six slides then you’ll never be able to sell yourself. Most sales books will tell you, that you’ve got about 5 minutes max to get a client’s attention.

After the six slides you might then want to get into individual benefits or product slides at the client’s request. Use PowerPoint Hyperlinks to get you from one part of the presentation to the next.

2. The Text

How Much Text?

The short answer is as little as possible…Generally if somebody can read the PowerPoint and understand the presentation without any further help, then it’s too much text. Many trainers talk of the use of slogans, but to define that a little more:

  • Simple Slides
  • Short Clauses
  • No Articles
  • Few Verbs
  • Size 32 best
  • Surprise me
  • Memory jogger
  • Max 6 lines

    Should you reveal line by line or all at once… Well there’s a big debate and my view is that if you have a big surprise in the text then don’t show your hand! Otherwise I’d show all points it gives both the presenter and audience an indication of the flow of the presentation.

    3. Graphics

    In simple terms, if you’re going to talk about the diagram in your presentation then its an asset, if it’s just there to make your slide pretty then its a liability. An old boss of mine used to say that every presentation needs to have one killer-image that people will remember. Even if that image takes you longer than the rest of the presentation it is time well spent.

    Designing Graphics

    The ideal graphic is one specifically made for the presentation by a professional. Failing that consider the following options:

  • For numeric information, use Excel to create graphs and then copy and paste them into your PowerPoint. (Excel has much better control over graphs than PowerPoint)
  • Use the insert -> diagram option to make semi-customised content.
  • Use Google Images to try and find the specific image you want.
  • Use the drawing toolbar to combine your images effectively.
  • Thumbnails can be useful navigational items for training Presentations, because they provide a quick visual reference for students to see what aspect of the subject the lecturer is referring to.

    4. Multimedia Content

    Generally speaking I try to avoid multimedia content and unless you are highly technically adept, I’d advise against using any kind of sound or videos in your presentation. Be aware of the following pitfalls:
    Linked files do not transfer well from one PC to another. The best method to make presentations portable is to use the package for CD option.

  • Check your audio before giving the presentation and make sure you take all the required cables. (Plan B, one presentation with sound and one without)
  • NEVER assume you can use the Internet during a presentation. It’s always best to ensure all content is on your PC.
  • Make sure you use the same version of PowerPoint on both PCs. (If you can’t check your presentation carefully before giving it.)
  • Don’t use more than one fade and more than one transition per slideshow, unless this is going to be used in a kiosk, you want the speaker to be the focus of attention not the flashing graphics.

    5. Front Page

    In many cases the front slide will be shown before your presentation and this is a great opportunity to get the audience excited about what you are going to say, make sure your frontpage has:
    The name of the presentation clearly displayed

    You have now designed some wonderful slide, so now all you have to do is speak about them!

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