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Using, Not Abusing PowerPoint: My Top 10 Tips

February 25, 2014

bad-presentation1          Last week, I had the pleasure of returning to my alma mater West Virginia University’s College of Business & Economics to judge a collegiate business case study competition sponsored by the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG).  Masters of finance students presented to us, acting as mock investments bankers.  We the judges were a mock Board of Directors of a Company faced with the decision whether to sell a fictitious retail Company and at what price.  The students completed complex valuation analyses and had to explain the results to us.  We watched three 20 minute presentations and then chose a winning team, who won $2,000 (I think) and who would move onto the regional competition in Pittsburgh. By and large, the presentations were very well done.

I completed my MBA from WVU in 1997.  I used to love to put PowerPoint presentations together in that very same building where I now was judging the competition.  We would stay up until the wees hours of the morning rehearsing.   PowerPoint was a novel thing (but then again so was email back then).

Last month, I myself used PowerPoint when speaking to entrepreneurs about “Tips for Success” at an event sponsored by West Liberty’s Intellectual Capitol business incubator.   In all honesty,  I realized after the event that my PowerPoint stunk and my presentation style was outdated  and all over the place.  So today, I thought I would do a quick blog post on 10 TIPS for making a better PowerPoint presentation.

Here I go:

1. SEE and BE SEEN; SMILE.  Make eye contact with your audience.  Everyone in the audience.  Not just the first row.  Don’t wear distracting outfits/accessories/shoes.  SMILE.  Don’t act like a deer in headlights.  Exude confidence and passion about your topic.

2. BE HEARD.  Speak loud enough so people can hear you and fluctuate the tone of the sound of your voice.  Pause and emphasize where appropriate.

3.  DON’T MAKE PEOPLE DIZZY.  Don’t have a million transitions and shapes moving in and off the slide.  So distracting.  Some say only one IMAGE per slide.  I made this mistake many times too.

4. GET RID OF BULLETS.  Don’t use bullet points. This is a new concept to me.  If you must, just keep each bullet point to one line of text.  I VIOLATE THIS ALOT.  Don’t have your entire script up on the slides.  No one will be reading it.   I also have violated this too on many occasions because I ran out of time to rehearse.

5. LESS IS MORE.   If you have more than 10-15 slides, then you will be boring your audience and trying to cram too much information into your presentation.  I made this mistake many times!!  Stick to rule of maybe 15 slides per every 45 minutes.

6. BRAND.  Slides should be consistent with your firm brand (color, scheme, font).

7.  TELL A STORY.  Don’t talk from a script.  Tell a story, an experience, put your lesson in context.  Your story should have a beginning (talk about conclusion or answer to problem); middle (explaining how to solve the problem); end (result).  Always have an agenda so audience knows entire scope of talk.   Make creative analogies to movie or songs.  One of my lawyer coach’s (Cordell Parvin) clients once analogized a legal problem to the movie Grease throughout the entire presentation, with songs interjected and all (I think).  So clever!  Here is a link to Cordell’s blog post on her presentation called Grease is the Word.

8. GIVE YOUR AUDIENCE A BREAK with a blank slide or video.  One of the articles I found on the web says average adult attention span lasts 20 min.  Twenty minutes into presentation, add a video or even a blank slide to give your audience a rest.  Steve Jobs did this.

9.  REHEARSE.  If you have the time, rehearse. This is a no-brainer.

10.  QUESTIONS audience wants covered.  I once saw a speaker from Google do this.  At the outset, he asks the audience what specific issues they wanted addressed.  He wrote them down.  He made sure to cover all of them throughout his presentation.

GOOD LUCK.  Do you have any tips on presentations?  Send me an email.  or comment here.

See also:

Presentations: How to Make Yours StandOut– Cordell Parvin

World’s Worst PowerPoint Presentations.

How PowerPoint Has Ruined Your Presentations -Cordell Parvin

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