Stop 6 Boring PowerPoint Habits in 2012

Make yourself six New Year’s Resolutions to stop pulling the power out of PowerPoint. Yes, there is so much talk about how boring and overdone PowerPoint presentations have become. But many of you still have to give them! I suggest you stop these six bad habits. You’ll engage your audience and save days of your life – and no one will ever call your presentations boring or overdone again.

  1. Stop making twice as many slides as you need for the just-in-case scenario. I have never seen even one client who did not have too many slides when we started working together. “But,” you say, “what if someone asks me a question and I can’t find the answer in my ten backup slides?” I suggest you tell the person you will get back to him or her in the next six hours. That should be sufficient. Spend the time working on your key business objectives, which I guarantee have almost nothing to do with creating ten extra PowerPoint slides.
  2. Stop organizing 40 minutes of data for a 20-minute talk. That means plan for 10-15 minutes of talking with time for discussion. Do not create 20 slides and then decide which ones to keep or cut. That is a total waste of time. Instead, set up your presentation’s structure and then fill in the details. Tell your audience, “I know you have come to a 20-minute talk. I will be speaking 10-15 minutes, and then we can discuss.” They’ll love you, especially when they find out that you’re not overloading them with unnecessary and inappropriate details. Of course, I know this suggestion will not work for every situation. For example, a TED talk is supposed to be a certain length.
  3. Stop writing those “perfect” long sentences on your slides. First of all, you are not supposed to put sentences on your slides. You are going to argue, “But sometimes people are not there and they need my slides.” Believe me; no one wants to look through a slide deck that has sentence after sentence. It’s boring and usually doesn’t make sense. Keep your audience from going nuts trying to read the words and listen to you at the same moment. Make yourself a rule of how many words to put on a slide and stick to it. For sure, don’t have the same word on a slide more than one time.
  4. Stop telling yourself you don’t have time to rehearse out loud. Here’s the ratio of preparation to rehearsal time for most people who are talking for twenty minutes.2011: 8 hrs to create slides + 10 minutes to think about the delivery with no rehearsal = boring and overdoneChange the ratio:

    2012: 6 hrs to create slides + 1 hour to rehearse = a confident presentation and audience engagement

    People generally look and sound more confident when they have practiced out loud. Do it and you’ll be impressed with yourself!!

  5. Stop thinking you are a graphic designer. Do not spend hours creating weird shapes just to make a simple point. Save yourself hours, even days, of time. Graphic design is an art, like sewing your own clothes. Trained graphic designers do know what they are doing. Most of us never went to school for this and should not attempt anything too fancy. What a graphic designer can do in 15 minutes will take you 2 hours and it won’t even look that good, no matter how many times you put shadows around the shapes.
  6. Stop giving a presentation that is only about showing slides. Consider having some slides if you must, but then blanking out the screen and telling a story, showing a product or if you are brave, having a group dance your presentation. Check this out.

More importantly spend time asking your audience for their feedback and comments.

I am sure you would like more hours in your days. So go cold turkey and make a resolution to stop these bad behaviors in 2012. I dare you to try these ideas and let me know what happens. Happy New Year!

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