A straw poll of the team here has identified five common PowerPoint mistakes that send presentations to the graveyard:
1. The Wrong Document – when you work in PowerPoint, are you clear what you are producing? Is it a handout, visual aids or your speaker’s notes? These three documents are as different as a book, a film and a film script. Too often, we see handouts projected on a screen, or what should be speaker notes printed and distributed. If you are creating visual aids to accompany your talk, make sure they really are Visual Aids – something that reinforces what you say and helps the listener understand. If it’s a handout, make it self-sufficient.
2. Not Easy for Your Audience – Your job as a presenter is to make it easy for your audience. A good slide is simple to interpret. Use a clear hierarchy of information on the page with messages, headings, evidence and facts laid out in a logical way. If you can make it simpler then do so.
3. Bullets and Text – The default PowerPoint approach, with lines of text and bullet points, usually means you are creating speakers notes for yourself. If you create slides to remind yourself what to say, it’s going to be bad for the audience.
4. Too Many Facts – Lists of facts do not work. Great communication needs stories, messages, evidence and facts. You should appeal to those who need emotional arguments as well as logical arguments.
5. Challenging the Audience – When using Visual Aids, you need to understand how the human brain works. People cannot both read and listen at the same time. If given a choice, they will read, not listen. Then when they tune in, they will hear you saying things they have just read. This means you, as the presenter, thinking through how you should help the audience absorb information.
So, when you next switch on PowerPoint ask yourself first whether this really is the best way to communicate your point.
Sometimes, a report, a talk or an email can be more effective. Put yourself into your audience’s shoes and imagine what they are experiencing.
PowerPoint can be powerful, but only if you use it properly.
Avoid PowerPoint Presentation mistakes.
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