5 Reasons Why Your (PowerPoint) Presentation Might Suck…

I’m always amazed at how many people think they produce great (PowerPoint) slide presentations.   Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before you potentially embarrass yourself in front of an audience…

#1 – Is your Presentation Over 30 minutes?

If so, you probably should distribute pillows to your audience members.

Just because the calendar says 60 minutes is allotted for your presentation doesn’t mean you need to fill the entire hour.   The ideal presentation is about 20 minutes with remaining time left for Q&A and discussion.   People will appreciate any surplus of time.

A nice way to augment your presentation is to have multiple presenters… and pass the speaking back and forth.   It helps keep an audience engaged.  This is especially effective when one of the speakers projects a monotone voice that can induce hypnosis.

#2 – Is the number of slides in your deck greater than 15?

Slide visuals should simply reinforce main points or introduce new topics.  Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, is an excellent presenter – study him.

Use your slide visuals to augment your story… not as your script.  If you feel like you need all those slides to guide your speech, then you probably haven’t rehearsed and you are not prepared.   If you need help, use note cards like your elementary school teacher taught you.

Respect your audience.  Don’t expect people to waste 30 minutes of their time on a presentation you only spent 10 minutes preparing.  It might be the last time they show up to your presentations.

#3 – Are you presenting more than 1 concept?

KISS – Keep it simple, silly.   Every presentation should be about answering one question.   What is the one question you are there to answer?  That is your concept.  Answer that question.

Your goal should be to leave the audience with one key idea or one key takeaway.  1 concept gives your audience one primary focus.   2 concepts divides the focus.  3 or more concepts =  information overload.

#4 – Do you have to use bulleted lists?

  • No more than 5 bullets
  • No child (indented) bullets
  • No more than 6-8 words per bullet

#5 – Is your font size less than 20?

If your smallest font is less than 20 pt (Arial), then you probably have way too much information on your slides.   People can read faster than you can talk.   The more information you are presenting visually means that the audience is spending less time listening to your story.

My favorite are the charts, graphs, or technical architecture images taken directly from printed documents.  Do you really think anybody can read this?  Rebuild a visual suitable for your slide or try using a hand-out instead.

Presentations should be fun.

Here is one of my favorite presentations…  Comedian Don McMillan doing, ‘Death By PowerPoint’: