Stop Boring Your Audience!

By now, we’re all familiar with “death by PowerPoint.” It’s that plain, boring, bullet-ridden presentation you have to look at during every meeting you go to.  Typically identified by slides with so much text crammed on them no one farther away than 5 feet can read them.  How many of us spend those meetings reading the slide, then lapsing into a daydream or checking our phones for texts and emails until the next slide comes up?

There’s nothing more coma-inducing than sitting through a presentation where the speaker is reading the exact same thing that’s on the screen. Why have the meeting at all if you can just send out your slide deck and your audience will have what they need?

Stop doing that!  Stop putting your audience to sleep! Stop forcing them to turn to their phones or tablets for amusement. Chances are, your audience has a short attention span, so it’s your job to make sure you keep them focused on you.

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy.  Just follow these steps.

1. Prepare

If you have to read from your own slides to give a presentation, then you’re not prepared.  Storyboard your slides before you even open PowerPoint. Don’t be lazy. If your own slides bore you, think about your poor audience.

 

2. One Point Per Slide

No bulleted lists! Bulleted lists ensure that your audience is not paying attention to you. Put one point on one slide and make sure they’re looking at you, not reading your slide (or their phones).

3. Less Text

If your slide has a lot of text, guess what? Your audience has to read it. Condense what you’re saying down to a handful of words at most. And speaking of text, stick to one font. Nothing fancy; a nice sans serif that’s easy to read will do.

 

4. More Pictures

Fact: About 65 percent of the population are visual learners.*

Fact: The human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text.*

Fact: Ninety percent of information that comes to the brain is visual.*

 

You don’t need words to illustrate your point. Cover your entire slide with an image of a woman standing on top of a mountain. That’s powerful. A clip art bean man holding a “We did it!” sign is not. Clip art will date you faster than feathered hair and a Walkman.

 

 

The slide on the left is easily condensed into one overall image.

Side note on animations: Use them sparingly.Just because “bounce,” “pinwheel,” and “fly in” are available to you doesn’t mean you should use them. No one wants to look at a slide where everything is spinning and bouncing all over the place. Animations should mean something.Talking about moving forward? Use an arrow that flies in from the left. That’s meaningful.

 

5. Have Fun!

Everyone wants to have fun and be entertained. Even at work. You don’t have to insert videos of Arrested Development into your presentation, but have fun with it. Use an amusing but tasteful image to get your point across. Use personal stories with images to accompany them. Having a bit of fun at the beginning will break the ice with your audience and help them connect with you throughout the rest of your presentation.

 

The reality is, PowerPoint isn’t going anywhere. And if you use it properly — as a tool to help enhance your presentation instead of as the main focus of your presentation — no one will be falling asleep. It’s not that hard to avoid death by PowerPoint. It might require a little more work on your end, but the benefit will definitely be worth it.  Who knows, people may actually look forward to your meetings!

 

*“Statistics on Visual Learners.” StudyMode.com. Web. Nov. 2012.

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