Monday, May 13, 2013

PowerPoint (and friends) for the novice presenter

Don't. Just.... put down the mouse. People are there to hear you and your ideas. They aren't coming to look at your slides. For the vast majority of presentations, you'll be much better off not producing any at all, and just being prepared to talk to people.

If there's detailed data for your audience to see and digest, make a handout. You'll convey more information, do it more accurately and completely, and save yourself a ton of distraction.

Advanced use

Visual aids, used wisely, can enhance a presentation. Some things are easier to show than to tell. When there's a specific concept or idea that people need to see, then using a PowerPoint or similar "slide" can be useful.  Learning to do this well takes a long time, and I can't teach you in a blog post.

But here are some rules of thumb:
  1. Slides are not your presentation. They are only a tiny part of it.
  2. Slides should add to, never repeat what you're saying or distract from it
  3. If you use a bullet, you're probably doing it wrong
  4. A data-presentation slide is, at best, an overview of the data. Details belong in handouts, not on a screen
  5. If you only had a whiteboard, would you draw this during your presentation? If not, don't put it on a slide either
  6. If your presentation involves moving from slide to slide, you probably are using way too many slides. Spend most of your time with the projector "blacked out", and bring up relevant slides only when necessary
  7. If you're not sure whether a slide is needed, it probably isn't
Think of more? Tell me on Twitter @DarrenPMeyer.


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