Preconceptions of PowerPoint Presentations

Friday, January 4, 2019

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been told there is only one way to put together a PowerPoint for a presentation. One golden standard “best practice” to ensure your audience is engaged while you’re speaking. That standard is this:

Each slide should have only minimal, guiding bullet points and an image if you’re feeling particularly cheeky.   

And just like that a generation of visual learners started dreading lectures, seminars, and trainings…myself included.

I don’t know how we got this far believing blowhards who equate eye contact during a presentation with an understanding of the subject matter. Here are some of the myths we’ve been led to believe as absolutes:

  • People won’t pay attention to the speaker if they can read the slides. This is a cop-out for sh*tty presenters. People will listen if they’re engaged with what is being said and how it’s being said. It’s a poor artist who blames their tools.

  • The presenter will be tempted to read the slides verbatim. If you’ve chosen to include a sentence on a slide then it’s because that sentence is important. So what if you read it? Would it be better to omit it altogether heaven forbid you forget? The only problem is when you don’t further extrapolate on the point you’ve read – then it’s akin to library story-time.

  • Participants will struggle to read the text if there is too much. Yes, your audience will struggle and squint if you write the great American novel on your slides. This is easily remedied by providing the slides before or after the presentation. Then text size no longer matters (within reason) because they will have it in either a manipulative format (raw file) or an application with a magnifying feature (literally anything on your computer, folks).

Why do I care? Since the inception of The Pulse, our goal has been to wade through data to get the most complete picture of GovCon that two people can. In our endeavors to understand the landscape, this data has included past service-provider presentations and Government Industry Day slides, to name a few.

Since we have yet to figure out how to be omnipresent, we are often reviewing slides from something we did not attend. There is nothing more frustrating than reviewing a presentation slide that doesn’t include the key takeaways or any tangible points. It’s like hitting a brick wall when all you see is a vague title and “remarks by” first and last name. How is that helpful? Why even post a slide like that for posterity?

It’s because of this annoyance that we at The Pulse strive to give you an actionable takeaway item after every presentation we conduct, pending the approval of the sponsoring organization. We get that this is unconventional, but we believe in spreading knowledge indiscriminately. If we research it, then you should get it. If we find it, then we share it. We want to provide the most useful deliverables we can without having to conform to the old-school notions of PowerPoint etiquette.

So next time you see us present our findings, we sincerely hope you enjoy not having to take a phone photo of our slides. We encourage you to take our presentations and our data and actually use it.

Originally written by Lisa Shea Mundt, Co-Founder. See original article here.

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