Self-portrait: Gaining management Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

Self-portrait: Gaining management Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

Every market has a vacuum that agile providers seek to fill. So if there has been a giant sucking sound in the presentation industry, eagerly filled by upstarts and platforms like Keynote, Prezi and Emaze (among others), that sucking must be attributed to one lethargic giant: PowerPoint.

I wrote yesterday about what comprises a great presentation, and I said I would offer some additional thoughts about PowerPoint.

My rule of thumb regarding PowerPoints is illustrated by the opening image of this post, and it falls along these lines: If your PowerPoint is entirely understandable to an uninformed audience simply by looking at your slides, and without any additional explanation, you’re probably doing it wrong. Just. Stop.

If, however, viewers were to gaze at your slides alone, without your explanatory presence, and as a result they experience some psychic discord and confusion, and if they begin to mutter “wtf” and scratch their collective head, you may (MAY!) be on the right track.

So, again, that opening image of the bottom of my shoes. A wtf moment.

Hmmm? WHAT is he saying about President's columns? (wtf?)

Hmmm? WHAT is he saying about President’s columns? (wtf?)

Why would that be? How can I claim that ready comprehension and ease of reading are markers for a sucky presentation?

Why? Because:

  • Because you are not charged with creating a shopping list. You are charged with informing and inspiring.
  • Because a presentation is not about reading. (It so pains me to point this out in 2014.)
  • Because you (the presenter) are supposed to bring something to the whole presentation deal-io.
  • Because if I can view your slide deck and master the subject easily, you probably have packed it with too many words (a premier suckiness marker).

But … if your presence enriches and illuminates your points, that tells me you have value, and it tells me that you are not simply using your PP as cue cards to be read to snoring people.

My title mentions “tone.” Know your audience, which may even include sober-minded (and perhaps sober) lawyers. But know that even serious folk are swayed (just like real people) by brevity, wit and humor. Your takeaways may be recalled better if they are encapsulated in an image rather than in 7,000 words.

Well, I complained about too many words and then proceeded to give you a 420-word blog post. But I’ll end with a few slides I have offered before on the topic of providing stellar content and even better social media engagement. In each instance, I made the point as the presenter; the image merely got the assist.

Don't work harder; work Corgi-er. Or something. Attendees had to listen to me (not my PowerPoint) to get my point.

Don’t work harder; work Corgi-er. Or something. Attendees had to listen to me (not my PowerPoint) to get my point.

Atticus Finch is prized by lawyers. But my use of him in a PowerPoint was to illustrate a non-Mockingbird point.

Atticus Finch is prized by lawyers. But my use of him in a PowerPoint was to illustrate a non-Mockingbird point.

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