But visual aids and the use of PowerPoint can be a powerful ally during a presentation. I've had people come to me after a speech, admitting that they were familiar with some of the stories and points that I've used, but the fact that I used visually captivating and relevant pictures during these stories, brought it to a whole new level for them...
So I'll be upfront in admitting that I'm a big fan of using a slide deck whenever presenting. I almost always have slides that I use to compliment my speeches, but I've had training on using slides correctly, so that they aid and compliment your message, instead of detracting from it.
It's pretty easy to spot when a speaker has never had training in using slides, aren't clued up with power point presentation tips, or hasn't even bothered to read a book or two on the correct preparation of visual accompaniments. His slides will likely be hard to read, user-unfriendly and more often than not contain too much info at any given period...
The last point is a particularly crucial one, since its the same one being missed by CEO's and otherwise brilliant people the world over.
Power Point Presentation Tips: Seriously Simplifying Slides
The simple truth is that your message isn't in the slides, but in your words. The slides simply compliment your message. Therefore, slides need to be simple and not over cluttered with mind-numbing data and (the most popular one) endless lists of bullet points.
Let's make a quick comparison between the more traditional, data-filled, bullet-point ridden slides and a set of slides used a few years ago by a masterful speaker:
Much has been written and said on power point presentation tips and the usefulness of visual aids. It seems that with the advent of presentation software, the slide-system has been used and abused so often, that many have decided to fall back to speaking without any slides.
Notice the difference? Jobs slides uses large and attractive pictures with single focal points. His slides doesn't convey his message (he uses his mouth for that), it simply compliments his message. Faced with these visual aids the audience is able to remain focused on his words.
In contrast, "slideuments" are usually a sight for sore eyes and leaves the audience with scattered focus as they try to read and make sense of all the data on your PowerPoint, while listening to you at the same time.
So the message here is simple:
- PowerPoint and other visuals are powerful aids, but...
- They need to be used correctly, i.e. as a medium and not as the message
- This means that they need to be simple, with few words, large picture and a single focal point.
Simplify, simplify, simplify... You can't go wrong by keeping your slides basic and clutter free, throwing out those bullet-points, long winded sentences and any complicated descriptions.
These kinds of slides simply do not work very well and are not very effective in getting your message across.
Garr Reynolds from PresentationZen calls these "slideuments" - a word he coined for the horrific blending of slides + documents.
Now let's have a look at a simple set of slides used by Steve Jobs over the years:
Information overload: Any audience member faced with a slide like this will not know where to begin and where to finish. There are many disadvantages to using a cluttered slide like this, not the least of which is having the audience read all the material off the electronic screen, and thus be distracted, while you're in the middle of your speech.
Another cluttered slide with simply too much information and no single focus point that'll help the audience understanding what you're saying. Slides like these look more like databanks or teleprompters than what they should be looking like: A simple visual accompaniment to your words...