Using PowerPoint to Converse

I’ve been a great reader since I was quite small. So if you are going to read your PowerPoint presentation slides to me, let’s skip the presentation and, instead, you can just send it to me. Sorry for the sarcasm, but it’s one of my pet peeves with PowerPoint.

I also don’t need hundreds of slides. And I don’t need you to mix fonts and shout at me in all capital letters. And please don’t misspell words. Once I find a misspelled word or bad grammar you’ve lost me for good.

So now you know what not to do with PowerPoint. It’s what I keep in mind when I’m putting a presentation together – and I’ve been presenting frequently of late.

Before I even begin to create a PowerPoint, I think about the main message I want to convey and what points will support it. It’s almost like an outline. I always operate on the premise that technology won’t work, and could I present without my slides. The answer is yes.

My slides are intended to reinforce my messages or add a visual element to support my points. I do not read from my slides. Most of the time, I’m not even positioned where I can see the slides without craning my neck.

The words on my slides are phrases. There are no sentences because I’m not going to read them. The phrases are intended to capture the main thought or message and to help the audience stay focused. I use large fonts and try to keep the backgrounds on the slides simple. I want the person in the back of the room to be able to see the slide and the messages as easily as the person in the front of the room.

When I create my presentation I give my audience a brief overview of the topic and what they should expect to get from it. I like to think of it as my contract with my audience. I then provide the facts and supporting details before providing a wrap-up and strong finish.

If I did well, audience members will ask questions and will want to converse after the presentation. The next time you have to present, take an extra look at your slides. Are you conversing?