12 questions to ask yourself – Part 2

12 Questions (continued)

Below are the remaining of the 12 basic questions you should ask yourself as you prepare for your next presentation. View the first six here.

7. Is there a change of pace? Presentations longer than even a few minutes may need to mix things up to keep the audience engaged. A few ways you can do this:

  • Transition into a new perspective — “let’s take a look at this from a different point of view…”
  • Change the look and feel of your slides
  • Tell a story to illustrate a point or introduce a new section
  • Play an audio or video (keep these tightly edited)
  • Ask a question
  • Have an audience interaction

8. Is there a wrap-up and a call to action? You have stated your case in simple but convincing terms — now wrap it up. Bring everything full circle and summarize your major points. Trim the details back to their simplest form and tell your audience what is critical for them to walk away with. Then, give them action points — tell them what they should do with this valuable material you have just given them. If you have done your job well, they are fired-up and ready to go. Give your listeners a channel for this enthusiasm.

9. Have you rehearsed enough? Seasoned speakers know that their confidence, humor, stage presence and ability to connect with their audience increase greatly with practice. Don’t short yourself this precious step. Use video and audio recording, use trusted friends, get a coach and keep rehearsing. It will help you smooth out the rough spots and enhance the brilliant spots.

10. Have you checked the room and checked the technology? Whenever possible get in your presentation area before the audience does. Stand where you will be speaking from, note where the monitors are, where you can stand and not obscure the screen or stand in the projector beam. Make sure the actual technology you will use is working and ready to go. Is everything cued up? You should be able to step to the front of the room and start without fussing with a computer or clicker.

11. Did your prepare mentally and physically before you went on? You may need to isolate yourself for a while just before your speech and clear mental distractions. Or you may need to do something physical to get your energy level revved up. Mick Jagger reportedly hits a treadmill backstage for 30 minutes just before he hits the stage.

12. Did you get to know your audience ahead of time? This is a powerful technique: whenever possible mingle with your audience as they enter the room. It warms you up and it warms them up. Introduce yourself, tell them how excited you are to be there. Ask them about your subject — you may get some last minute details you can use. Then when you begin you will have friends in the audience instead of a roomful of disinterested strangers.

Use these 12 questions to build and fine-tune your speech and to prepare yourself for your delivery. You will be richly rewarded with a first-rate presentation that both connects with and motivates your audience.

By | October 15th, 2017|Monday Morning Slide Blast|0 Comments

The Magic of TED

Cara Snow at TEDxPeachtree 2017

Ah, the speaking business. There are a million experts, voices, tipsters and YouTube videos. Do this and, don’t ever, ever, do that.

I know. I claim to be one of them. I am constantly offering free but absolute advice about visuals, presentation skills, design and such. I try to catch myself with a common admonition to my readers to try something out. If it works for you, then great. If not, then there are lots of other pieces of advice about the same issue.

This past week I had the honor of designing slides and coaching a few TEDxPeachtree speakers here in Atlanta (Cara Turano Snow, above). It was that kind of experience for me that I know I will extract lessons from for many months to come.

Two initial truths I have concluded:

  1. There are a lot of ways to do this thing we call public speaking. A lot of ways to skin this cat. Maybe this is what attracts me to it with such a deep-felt zeal. There is no one path. For every “rule” you hear from an “expert” or see online there is someone out there who is breaking it and getting standing ovations (and probably millions of dollars).
  2. The one rule, however, that may be absolute is that the audience is always at the top of the list. It doesn’t matter who you are or how important your message, if you don’t inform, entertain or in some way add value to your audience then you have missed the mark.

I try to coach my clients and create their presentations to fit their individual skills and passions. Always while keeping the ultimate goal of providing something meaningful for the audience. It is not a perfect science. There were some bulls-eyes at TEDxPeachtree and there were some works-in-progress.

There may be a third truth:

  1. When you are at the front of the room and you command a group’s attention, when that connection occurs, when you say or show or create something that touches your audience and creates a deep, even emotional, bridge, then that is as good as it gets. It is like drugs for the presenter and it can be a life-expanding experience for the audience.

Maybe that is the real magic of TED.

By | October 7th, 2017|Monday Morning Slide Blast|0 Comments

12 questions to ask yourself – Part 1

12 questions to ask yourself

Here, in roughly chronological order, are 12 basic questions you should ask yourself as you prepare for your next presentation. Some of these deal with visuals — how you might prepare and deliver PowerPoint or Keynote — but most of them are all encompassing and are relevant to just about every situation where you are formally addressing a group.

1. Who are these guys? The most basic of research should be conducted into your audience. Who are they? What are the general parameters that define them: age, education, gender, socioeconomics, careers, company positions, etc., etc. How homogeneous are they? What about the organization they belong to? What are their concerns, needs, trends? Try to crawl inside their heads. If you have time, contact some of their leaders and rank and file members to interview them. Then you can ask yourself the ultimate question: What do I have of value that I can bring to this specific audience?

2. What is my BIG idea? I have written about having and developing a big idea a number of times. What do you want the audience to “get?” What one thing do you want them to remember if you run into any of them in a few weeks? Express it as a benefit or action item for them. Distill this down to one clear, simply-stated concept. Use this BIG idea as a yard stick to measure against everything in your presentation. Does every slide, comment, exercise, etc. move the audience toward this one concept. Maybe 90% of business leaders and experts who speak have too much information to effectively deliver to an audience. It is better that your listeners get your one core concept then they are overwhelmed with 10.

3. Is there a logical structure? Now that you have a BIG idea, do you have maybe three supporting points for that idea? Do you state and develop those points clearly, logically? Does it all make sense? Does it flow logically? Many experts make the mistake of structuring their presentations according to their own internal understanding of their content. Organize and parse it so that your audience, who may not be experts, can absorb and digest. Put yourself in their shoes.

4. Do I really need slides? I make my living designing visual presentations for speakers but there are many situations where even a non-professional speaker can and should go it alone. Slides can help define a concept, can set a mood, can add an emotional component and can even help a speaker keep on track, but the audience wants to see and hear you. They want to know your take, your opinions. Consider just standing and delivering. If you are prepared and confident enough, it can be a powerful experience for both you and your audience.

5. Are my slides effective? This can cover so much, but ask yourself: Do I use quality images? Have I removed all but the most important keywords from my slides? If I have numbers, do I make them meaningful to my audience? Evaluate each slide to see if it works to move your viewers toward your BIG idea. Ask yourself if you need every slide and every element in each slide? Do you need additional slides to make your case?

6. Do I have stories? The power of relevant stories cannot be overstated. They appeal directly to our listeners’ empathy and emotions. The audience will paint their personal experiences onto yours. The connection and the buy-in are enormous. However stories need to be developed, edited and rehearsed. Don’t waste a lot of time with extraneous details. Make sure there is a relevant point (see #2 above). Tell about challenges as well as successes — people love to hear how you overcame a difficulty. If you are anxious about stories being too soft for a business context — don’t be. But if you must, think of them as “examples.”

Next week: the remaining 6 questions, including what to do just before you go on (Hint: Move like Jagger).

By | September 30th, 2017|Monday Morning Slide Blast|0 Comments

Stop the PowerPoint (for a few seconds)

 Stop the PowerPoint (for a few seconds)

There are good reasons to blank out the screen during your presentation. You may be at a transition point and want to verbally begin a new section. You may be finished with the discussion of the previous image or message and don’t want it to linger inappropriately while you continue on. Or you may want to give the audience a visual pause and redirect their attention back to you.

I often build blank screens into my presentations to warn me that a transition is coming up so that I won’t prematurely disclose the next slide before I have orally set it up. There is no harm to be done — I can click right through it if it becomes unnecessary.

Create an actual blank slide or use the commands in PowerPoint or Keynote (press “B” for a black screen or “W” for a white screen) to temporarily pause the visuals in real time and give a blank screen. Many remote controls have a button that will accomplish this also.

It is another way of keeping the control of the timing and the display of the projected images so that you and your brilliance will be the proper focus of the presentation.

By | September 24th, 2017|Monday Morning Slide Blast|0 Comments

PowerPoint at its best

Premium PowerPoint

No matter what you may have heard, PowerPoint (or Apple Keynote, if that is your choice) can be an exceptionally effective tool for creating a superstar speech.

To build a powerful visual presentation I try to work towards these goals…

I look for the core of your message, your big idea, your mission. Often my clients are not sure of what that core is. They may know all the endless details but they haven’t found or defined the center, the nugget of truth. That’s what I want. Sometimes that nugget is an emotional revelation. Sometimes it is a blinding flash of the obvious. Sometimes it is a profound, distilled insight that only their expertise could uncover. Whatever that is – that’s what I look for.

Then I translate that big idea, that core message, into slides. The slides have to illuminate the message; help explain the message; maybe even provide the emotional component of the message. The visuals have to do all that and still let the speaker be the storyteller – the star of their show. The slides cannot steal the presenter’s energy. They must complement his or her speech, deliver the presenter’s message and certainly not be boring.

And finally, and perhaps most important, the slides have to engage the audience and maybe even inspire them.

That is not your typical bullet-point riddled presentation. If done right, this can make for a pretty darn good PowerPoint show.

By | September 16th, 2017|Monday Morning Slide Blast|Comments Off on PowerPoint at its best

Tools of the Trade: A clicker and a monitor

Tools of the Trade

Two must have items for a polished professional presentation are a remote control or “clicker” and a monitor of some kind.

A clicker gives you control of your presentation without having to interrupt your delivery to walk over to your laptop and manually advance each slide. Or worse yet having to ask someone to babysit your laptop and advance the slides when you request them. Both of these scenarios cause you as the presenter to step out of your role as the speaker and deal with the technology — even if only for a second. Both disrupt the flow of your delivery and are distracting to the audience — making you look not in control and unprofessional.

I would suggest purchasing your own remote even if the venue for your presentation has one. They are for the most part universally cross-compatible and not too expensive. Bring extra batteries.

The monitor, unless it is your laptop, is not something you are expected to provide — but it is none the less critical to the success of your performance. Having a monitor in front of you, in your line of sight, allows you to see the slide that the audience is seeing without having to turn your head and look at the screen.

Always check out your speaking area in advance and, if possible, do a run through with the actual equipment you will use for the presentation. Can you position yourself and your laptop so that you can see the screen clearly when you stand to the side, out of the projector beam? If there is a provided monitor, is it compatible with your laptop and cabling? Is it in a good position for you to speak and still see the screen? If the using a provided system is it compatible with your presentation? What are the optimum areas where you can stand and still engage well with the audience? Does the remote work, are the batteries fresh and do you understand which buttons do what?

Having the right tools and doing a walk through before hand will add substantially to your confidence, your professionalism and the audience’s feeling that you are the expert in control.

 

 

By | September 2nd, 2017|Monday Morning Slide Blast|Comments Off on Tools of the Trade: A clicker and a monitor

What to do with numbers (part 4) – Go big!

Cost of a penny

When you want to drive home the impact of a critical number in your presentation nothing does it better than showing it big — maybe really big. It is important to set up the context in advance. That may mean first displaying a slide with the full data set in a table or chart to explain the 30,000 foot view. Then you can drill down with a slide with the over-sized numbers that illustrate your point powerfully.

By | August 26th, 2017|Monday Morning Slide Blast|Comments Off on What to do with numbers (part 4) – Go big!

What to do with numbers (part 3) – Illustrate your numbers

Graphics-illustration

So far we have seen two ways to express data to our audience:

  • The first is to simply show the full data set in a spreadsheet or table-style chart and then use large boxes (semi-transparent white) to block out the data we don’t wish to focus on and use bright outlined circles or boxes to highlight the data we do want to discuss.
  • The second is to make a graph to show the relationship of a smaller but critical subset of the numbers.
  • The third way is to more fully illustrate our numbers than just showing a simple graph.

PowerPoint has a rather clumsy graph function that will automatically generate a bar, line, pie or other style graph. Unfortunately these default graphs are often more difficult to understand than just the plain data. I often choose to create a graph-type illustration from scratch like the illustration above.

If we have already shown the source of the data — the full set of numbers we have to work with — it may be a good strategy to dive in and show an important but narrow subset that makes the point we are trying to communicate.

We could just put the two numbers above on the screen, but the simple illustration of the stacks of dollar bills and the avatar-style images helps deliver our message on two levels: the numbers themselves and the visuals.

This technique of using words (or in this case numbers) plus a graphic engages your audience’s brains with two channels of communication and will greatly improve understanding and retention.

Next week: Go over the top

By | August 19th, 2017|Monday Morning Slide Blast|Comments Off on What to do with numbers (part 3) – Illustrate your numbers

What to do with numbers (part 2) – Make a graph

Make a chart

When we present numbers to our audience, just like when we present other content, we must help them make sense of it — what does it mean to them? Often we feel compelled to show all the data in a table or list to give a sense of the big picture or to establish our credentials as an in-depth expert.

However, a large amount of information should probably not be left on the screen for any length of time. It can be too unfocused and distracting — allowing your audience’s attention to wander around into information you are not currently discussing. And, of course, large quantities of numbers require small typefaces to fit on the screen — never a good choice.

If a table filled with numbers in labeled rows and columns is a start at making sense out of a set of data then a graph with selected information is the next level. A graph represents numbers as graphic quantities so your audience gets a chance to read the numbers and see some sort of visual relationship — this should improve comprehension.

The pie/doughnut graph above keeps the amount of information manageable — it does not list every possible type of pet — only the categories relevant to the presentation.  And it shows each category’s relationship to the whole. Plus adding icons helps the viewers quickly grasp the content while adding visual interest.

Next week: Illustrate your numbers

By | August 12th, 2017|Monday Morning Slide Blast|Comments Off on What to do with numbers (part 2) – Make a graph

What to do with numbers (part 1) – Highlight the important data

What to do with all those numbers 1

What do we do when we have to show a large data set in a presentation?

The first step may be to recognize that the presenter has the responsibility to lead his audience through the maze of numbers on the screen (hopefully not with that highly-irritating laser pointer). As speakers, we have to make the numbers meaningful.

The next step may be to understand that only so much information can be disseminated in a presentation — the details are often best left to a printed report or handout.

So how do we help our audience make sense out of the numbers we do show? There are at least 4 answers — maybe more by the time I finish this series.

The simplest solution is to show the original complex table and then block out the unnecessary detail we don’t want to discuss and/or highlight the critical numbers we do want to discuss.

The slide above uses semitransparent white boxes to minimize the unimportant content and red circles to draw attention to what is important.

The advantage here is that we are showing the entire data set in its original table format. A disadvantage could be that the type size in the original table may be a little too small to be very legible. But at least we are helping the audience make sense out of a sea of information.

Next week: A few rules for using graphs.

By | August 6th, 2017|Monday Morning Slide Blast|Comments Off on What to do with numbers (part 1) – Highlight the important data

Fire hose delivery

Fire hose delivery

The highly respected expert stepped to the stage and announced that he was going to “turn on the fire hose” and let the audience have everything he knows about the presentation’s topic. In a perfect world, all the brilliant insights that would tumble from his lips in this presentation would be eagerly assimilated by everyone in his audience. But in this world, that doesn’t happen. As a matter of fact, as presenters we are lucky if two or three of our important points register with just a few of the people in our audience.

Public speaking is not an efficient medium for delivering large quantities of information. But it is a superb vehicle for driving home one profound, well thought out and well-spoken concept — especially if we can stir an emotional response in our listeners.

Beware of attempting to offer too much. This is the main reason to simplify: if you tell your audience a dozen ideas they may not retain any of them; if you tell them one or two you may just change their lives.

By | July 29th, 2017|Monday Morning Slide Blast|Comments Off on Fire hose delivery

Five ways to evaluate a slide

Five ways to evaluate a slide

What are the basic criteria that determine if your slide is working? How can you evaluate a slide or even a presentation to see if it will work and deliver your message cleanly and effectively?

I look for five basic things.

  1. Is there a BIG IDEA? Is there one concept that ties the slide together and fits in with the BIG IDEA that the overall presentation is trying to communicate. There cannot be more than one concept per slide and the audience should be able to get it quickly and without too much distraction. Often this can be expressed in the headline for that slide.
  2. Are there minimal words? There is an inverse relationship between audience engagement and the quantity of words on the screen. In general, the more text they have to read the less they will “get it” and the less attention they will focus on the presenter. Be a ruthless text editor — make each word earn its keep.
  3. If there are images are they displayed big enough to have maximum impact? Do they clearly tell the story the slide is trying to communicate? Is there more than one image on a slide — if so are they all necessary? Try eliminating them one-by-one and see if your idea becomes clearer and stronger.
  4. Are your numbers expressed simply? Have you made the effort to make the numbers mean something significant or are they just a data dump? Think of yourself as a tour guide explaining a foreign country to your audience. It is your job (and your slide’s job) to show them the important and interesting spots in the strange land they are in.
  5. Have you rehearsed the slide in its context? Rehearsal is the ultimate test. Do it out loud, in front of a mirror, with a trusted friend or video camera. Practice reveals all the clumsiness and inconsistencies in your presentation and its visuals. It shows where there is too much or too little, it builds your confidence and uncovers possibilities for improvisation and humor.

Measure your slides and your entire presentation against these concepts and your next PowerPoint deck will soar.

By | July 23rd, 2017|Monday Morning Slide Blast|Comments Off on Five ways to evaluate a slide

Combining PowerPoint and You

Combining PowerPoint and You

Just the other night I was at my favorite Toastmasters meeting. I have a great TM club here in Atlanta and I get to see a lot of motivated folks move from anxious newbies who are usually a bundle of nerves to presenters who have gained a measure of practice and experience and, as a result, confidence.

It fuels my deeply held belief that anyone who has the motivation and determination can become an effective speaker. I have seen it happen over and over again. They put in the work, get the right feedback and become someone they never thought possible.

The speaker last night was Sarah, a professor at a prestigious Atlanta university. She had a wonderfully humorous story about how she was managing all the tasks that come with having a new baby in the house. It was accompanied with a modest PowerPoint deck.

Sarah was struggling with the same problem I have seen over and over with PowerPoint presentations: She was a very good presenter and had a great story. And she had a good slide deck. But when she tried to bring them together in a smooth flowing delivery to her audience, the slides and her delivery were choppy and uncoordinated. She had to keep looking back at the screen to see what was going on there. She felt she had to explain her slides instead of having the slides illuminate her words. I could tell she was uncomfortable.

Delivering an effective PowerPoint presentation means having your words and slides work together like the dialog and the setting in a movie. They should merge seamlessly. Each will compliment and expand the other without the audience feeling like it is watching and hearing two separate presentations.

I must admit it is not always easy to do. But here are two critical strategies that will help you accomplish this:

  1. Write and practice your presentation before turning on PowerPoint. Your words and your thoughts should be the driver of your delivery. Then, once you are fairly comfortable with how the delivery is shaping up, add in the visuals that will help expand your spoken thoughts. All too often we will use PowerPoint to create our presentation. This just doesn’t work!
  2. Rehearse times two. Once you start to merge your verbal delivery with your slides, practice like you mean it. Double that. Get comfortable with what visuals appear when and how your transitions work. Sometimes you want the slide to appear and then you will comment. Sometimes you want the opposite – you will begin your words and have the slide appear at a significant point. This all takes rehearsal and editing. Put away your script, work from an outline. Then put that aside. Move things around and make your delivery natural and sensible. The only way to do this is with practice.

There is great truth in the maxim: The amateur practices until they get it right. The professional practices until they cannot get it wrong. It’s work, but it is well worth it.

By | July 6th, 2017|Monday Morning Slide Blast|Comments Off on Combining PowerPoint and You

Make a color transparent to overlay a graphic

How to overlay a graphic

A useful but underutilized technique in PowerPoint is to set a transparent color in a photo. The original stock photo here was of two men set on a pure white background — perfect for this treatment.

First, I imported the photo into the slide then I selected Format > Color > Set transparent color. Using the cursor I selected the solid white background and PowerPoint 2013 set the entire background as transparent. Then I simply used Format > Bring Forward to move the photo above the other elements in the slide.

Easy-peasy!

Previous posts

By | July 2nd, 2017|Monday Morning Slide Blast|Comments Off on Make a color transparent to overlay a graphic

An easy way to simplify complex data

An easy way to simplify complex data

A common problem with updating and improving an existing (and probably tedious) slide deck is how to effectively revise a slide filled with data. We have all seen and possibly used a big Excel data file to generate a table filled with many numbers. The difficulty for the audience is how to make sense of a screen filled with numbers in which all are similar in size and therefore importance. Presenters often resort to the use of a laser pointer — a bad and irritating solution.

There is a simple and quick fix — draw a bright red box around the data you wish to focus attention on. If you are walking your viewers through a number of different parts of the table, create duplicate slides and move the box from one section to the next. The obvious advantage of this is that you are narrowing their attention to what you wish to discuss while showing the entire range of information.

The disadvantages are that you are still clogging up the screen with a lot of information — more than the audience can easily assimilate. If your data set is particularly large your text may be very small. Highlighting a few of the numbers will only draw attention to the fact that they can’t read them because of their size.

In the example above, I have also created semi-transparent white boxes to partially obscure the data I was not discussing. Download a factsheet to show you how.

Drawing a box like this may be a quick way to improve your data-heavy slides — give it a try.

By | June 24th, 2017|Monday Morning Slide Blast|Comments Off on An easy way to simplify complex data

Episode 2 – How to MacGyver* a bad PowerPoint deck

 

Last week we discussed what steps you could take if you had to deliver a presentation from a really bad PowerPoint deck. A deck that you were not permitted (under penalty of death) to change. You can review those suggestions at the end of this post if you wish.

But what if you are allowed to make some changes but must keep the overall look? This usually means you have to stick fairly close to the corporate template. In this case there are a lot of options.

What to do if you can change a few things in a bad PowerPoint presentation:

  • First, consider the ideas for dealing with an unchangeable slide deck at the bottom of this post.
  • Add color. Often corporate decks are bland with little color.
    • Create a rich, colorful opening slide, maybe a strong full-slide photo.
    • Use colorful, appropriate slides for transitions between different sections of your talk.
    • Insert colorful slides as a setup or a background for your stories.
  • Reduce sentences and paragraphs to keywords
  • Add additional slides after complex charts, graphs and data sets that translate and distill the information.
  • Add “quote” slides that help break up the progression of template slides — maybe with images of the person you are quoting.
  • Use big bold images wherever possible. Fill as much of the slide real estate as you can for that big impact.
  • Use people images where appropriate. Your audience will connect with photos of their same species.

 

From my last post:
If you can’t change anything and are required to deliver a pre-built but weak slide deck.

  • Determine what content is critical to your audience and what isn’t.
  • Introduce with a discussion of what to watch for and what to ignore.
  • Likewise, debrief and discuss the important areas and minimize what wasn’t important.
  • Whatever you do, don’t read slides word for word. Paraphrase. Try reading the first few words and let them read the rest. Just don’t read everything to them.
  • Use a little humor. Make fun of your terrible PowerPoint deck. (careful here — don’t get fired!)
  • Use your remote (or press the “B” key) to black out the screen to pause and interject your comments, have a discussion, switch to other media, etc.
  • Use the blackout key to tell a story about your organization and its employees or clients.
  • Use collateral pieces, white papers, handouts, etc.
  • Be willing to try anything to break up the boredom, lift the energy and help the audience focus on the important material.

Don’t let bad PowerPoint hijack your message. Keep your audience’s best interests in mind and deliver a presentation that goes beyond those lousy slides.

*MacGyver is an American television series about a secret agent, Agnus MacGyver, who could get out of any difficult situation with a paperclip, some hair gel and a few discarded toenail clippings. As bad as some PowerPoint presentations can be, he would certainly be resourceful enough to figure a workaround.

 

By | June 12th, 2017|Monday Morning Slide Blast|Comments Off on Episode 2 – How to MacGyver* a bad PowerPoint deck

How to MacGyver* a bad PowerPoint deck

 

I often receive the comment when I train corporate or organizational groups that they are required to use the company PowerPoint template and styles. Some are even forced to deliver a canned PowerPoint deck as is. Invariably, these are dreadful creations — dumbed-down and loaded with slide after slide of endless bullets and text, built on the blandest of templates.

Sound familiar? If you are presented with this scenario, there is still much you can do. How would MacGyver* fix a bad PowerPoint presentation? A caution: please measure the usefulness of these ideas against the possibility of angering your higher-ups or the entrenched “we always do it this way” folks in your organization.

If you can’t change anything and are required to deliver a pre-built but weak slide deck.

  • Determine what content is critical to your audience and what isn’t.
  • Introduce with a discussion of what to watch for and what to ignore.
  • Likewise, debrief and discuss the important areas and minimize what wasn’t important.
  • Whatever you do, don’t read slides word for word. Paraphrase. Try reading the first few words and let them read the rest. Just don’t read everything to them.
  • Use a little humor. Make fun of your terrible PowerPoint deck. (careful here — don’t get fired!)
  • Use your remote (or press the “B” key) to black out the screen to pause and interject your comments, have a discussion, switch to other media, etc.
  • Use the blackout key to tell a story about your organization and its employees or clients.
  • Use collateral pieces, white papers, handouts, etc.
  • Be willing to try anything to break up the boredom, lift the energy and help the audience focus on the important material.

A bad PowerPoint deck is a challenge to you to step up your game and become a better presenter. Strive to keep your audience’s best interests in the forefront. If you can pull it off you will be their PowerPoint superhero.

*MacGyver is an American television series about a secret agent, Agnus MacGyver, who could get out of any difficult situation with a paperclip, some bubble gum and the lint from inside his sock. As bad as some PowerPoint presentations can be, he would certainly be resourceful enough to figure a workaround.

Next week: What to do if you can change a few things in a bad PowerPoint presentation.

By | June 12th, 2017|Monday Morning Slide Blast|Comments Off on How to MacGyver* a bad PowerPoint deck

How to MacGyver* a bad PowerPoint deck

 

I often receive the comment when I train corporate or organizational groups that they are required to use the company PowerPoint template and styles. Some are even forced to deliver a canned PowerPoint deck as is. Invariably, these are dreadful creations — dumbed-down and loaded with slide after slide of endless bullets and text, built on the blandest of templates.

Sound familiar? If you are presented with this scenario, there is still much you can do. How would MacGyver* fix a bad PowerPoint presentation? A caution: please measure the usefulness of these ideas against the possibility of angering your higher-ups or the entrenched “we always do it this way” folks in your organization.

If you can’t change anything and are required to deliver a pre-built but weak slide deck.

  • Determine what content is critical to your audience and what isn’t.
  • Introduce with a discussion of what to watch for and what to ignore.
  • Likewise, debrief and discuss the important areas and minimize what wasn’t important.
  • Whatever you do, don’t read slides word for word. Paraphrase. Try reading the first few words and let them read the rest. Just don’t read everything to them.
  • Use a little humor. Make fun of your terrible PowerPoint deck. (careful here — don’t get fired!)
  • Use your remote (or press the “B” key) to black out the screen to pause and interject your comments, have a discussion, switch to other media, etc.
  • Use the blackout key to tell a story about your organization and its employees or clients.
  • Use collateral pieces, white papers, handouts, etc.
  • Be willing to try anything to break up the boredom, lift the energy and help the audience focus on the important material.

A bad PowerPoint deck is a challenge to you to step up your game and become a better presenter. Strive to keep your audience’s best interests in the forefront. If you can pull it off you will be their PowerPoint superhero.

*MacGyver is an American television series about a secret agent, Agnus MacGyver, who could get out of any difficult situation with a paperclip, some bubble gum and the lint from inside his sock. As bad as some PowerPoint presentations can be, he would certainly be resourceful enough to figure a workaround.

Next week: What to do if you can change a few things in a bad PowerPoint presentation.

By | May 28th, 2017|Monday Morning Slide Blast|Comments Off on How to MacGyver* a bad PowerPoint deck