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The Perils of PowerPoint: How to Create Presentations that Don’t Put People to Sleep

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Picture this: You’re sitting in a conference room, the hum of fluorescent lights above and the monotone drone of the presenter in front. As slide after slide of bullet points flash before your eyes, you feel your eyelids growing heavier and heavier.

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? But what if I told you there’s a way to break free from the PowerPoint-induced trance, that crafting presentations that truly engage and inspire your audience is not only possible but easier than you think? Yes, you heard that right. With just a sprinkle of humour and a pinch of creativity, you can turn your next presentation from a mundane affair into a memorable experience that leaves your audience begging for more.

While PowerPoint may be a great tool for organising information and presenting that information in a slightly more palatable way, we have to remember the most important thing: PowerPoint is just a tool. And while a hammer may be the best tool to build a house it’s also the best tool to break a window. Same goes for PowerPoint. The Power of presentation comes not in the points on the screen, but in the poise of the presenter.

Here are some classic mistakes often made with PowerPoint, and how you can spruce up your slides with a sense of humour in mind.

What is your point, exactly?

Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: death by bullet points. We’ve all experienced it – slide after slide filled with endless lists of bullet points that seem to suck the life out of the room. But fear not, for salvation is at hand.

According to Nancy Duarte, author of “Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations,”  effective slides should be like billboards – succinct, impactful, and visually appealing.

So, instead of bombarding your audience with text-heavy slides, why not opt for powerful visuals that convey your message in a memorable way?

 

Visually impactful slides allow you to portray your sense of humour and lightness of touch alongside your important information. Great visuals can help you accompany your information with the tone you are trying to convey to your audience while still delivering your message.

As Steve Jobs famously said,

“People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.”

So why not let your visuals do the talking for you?

The Great Wall of Text

Next up, let’s address the dreaded wall of text. You know the one I’m talking about: slide after slide filled with dense paragraphs of text that no one in their right mind would ever bother to read. But fear not, for there is a simple solution: embrace the power of brevity.

“If your words or images are not on point, making them dance in colour won’t make them relevant.” – author and presentation expert Garr Reynolds

So instead of overwhelming your audience with information overload, distil your message down to its essence and present it in a clear and concise manner. Remember, your slides are there to support your presentation, not to serve as a substitute for it.

With Whom am I speaking?

Perhaps the most important rule of PowerPoint presentations is to know your audience. Are you presenting to a room full of tech-savvy millennials or a group of seasoned professionals? Tailor your presentation style and content to suit the needs and expectations of your audience. And don’t be afraid to inject a little humour into your slides to keep things lively and engaging. After all, laughter is the best medicine for a sleepy audience.

Legendary Politician and Humourology guest William Hague said it best when he said,

“If you want to hold an audience’s attention, you have to get them to do things because of course, faced with one person talking continuously, people’s minds drift off. The human brain didn’t evolve to just sit around the campfire listening to the same person for an hour. So therefore, if you’re going to impose a long monologue, you do have to liven it up for them to keep them engaged. Now that can be anything from getting them to applaud or to cheer, or to cry. I find that the best way of doing that is to get them to laugh, that re-engages them, gives them some connection with the speaker, and it gets their attention back.”

 

It’s definitely worth having another listen to William Hague’s Humourology Podcast episode, as it’s full of really great advice.

 

 

So, as you charge ahead with all guns blazing, armed with these tips and tricks, may your next PowerPoint presentation be a resounding success. Just remember, as long as you bite the bullet and ditch those dreaded bullet points, you’ll be well-armed and dangerously entertaining.

 

See you next Tuesday.

Warmest,

Paul x

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