Microsoft Powerpoint

PowerPoint is a fantastic presentation aid. Used correctly, it can enhance a presentation adding stunning graphics that help visual learners concentrate for longer and retain more of the topic after the presentation. It stimulates the audience by providing variety in the presentation and allows the presenter a mini break out of the spotlight.

With all these benefits there is little wonder presentations and PowerPoint now seem to go hand in hand, but when was the last time you sat through a PowerPoint presentation that wasn’t overloaded with text, graphically repulsive or just plain old boring?

We have all experienced the term “Death by PowerPoint” at some stage. Here are the top 5 mistakes people make when using PowerPoint.

1. Text, text and more text

Although I don’t subscribe to simple rules relating to how much text is too much per slide, I would recommend decreasing the text to an absolute minimum. This means no setences and definitely no paragraphs of text. You are the presenter, say it and back it up with a picture instead of text. Spoken words combined with pictures help the audience retain the information.

A picture is worth a thousands words

2. Animation

We don’t need to see text swirl in, bullet points rotate, pictures grow and then vibrate. Animations are best left out altogether or used sparingly at most. The audience will get side tracked by the special effects and not focus on the content of the presentation.

3. Talking to the slide

It is very hard to make eye contact with the audience to engage them when you are facing the slide. No wonder Bill in the back row is checking his emails. Look at people and it’s amazing how they feel obligated to pay attention. Make sure you know your topic and presentation well enough not to have to talk to the slides.

4. Reading

DO NOT read your slides. Your audience is perfectly capable of reading and can do it more quickly than you can. If you’ve kept your bullet points short you won’t be tempted to read them because there will not be anything to read. It is okay to read a point, such as a definition or a quote, to drive home a key message. Just do not make a habit of it. If you have a text heavy slide, let the audience read it themselves. Read the slide twice to yourself to allow enough time for the audience to read and digest the slide.

5. The invisible presenter

Too many presenters hide behind a lectern when delivering a presentation hiding their body from the audience and missing out on body language. Get out front and engage and interact with the audience. Move towards the slide and point at key messages and then move back to the middle of the room dragging the audience’s attention with you. You are the presenter not PowerPoint.

Interested in learning more? Book one of our popular Presenting with PowerPoint keynote presentations where our facilitator will expand on the above points so you can avoid making the same mistakes and maximise your business presentations.