Saturday, June 30, 2012

The ART of Power Point Presentations

Power Point presentations are something that a lot of people who work around the world do on a frequent basis. And many times, when the audience is international they must do them in English.

The question is: are they doing them right? And what about you?

For today's post, we'll take a look at a video with some key tips on the Art of Power Point presentations from Terri Sjodin, a well-known author, speaker and consultant in the field of business communication.

1. First, WATCH it once and try to understand the main idea. Try to see what Terri has to say about the following:

  • How important are colors, fonts and effects in a presentation?
  • How do you decide when to keep or scrap a Power Point slide?
  • What is a true and authentic visual aid?
  • Is the number of slides important? Why?

2. Now READ the transcript in detail. You may play it as you read if you like.

So then a lot of people say, "Terri, you don't understand... that's why I use my Power Point in my laptop because I think that that will make it a lot better".

I'm like... OK, now I don't want you to shoot the messenger here because sometimes visual aids truly can enhance your sales presentation. As long as they are truly and authentically a visual aid.

But most of the time, people use Power Point or their lap top presentations as a crutch to get them through their own material.

Pretend you for example are sitting in front of someone, a sales representative who's coming to pitch you. And they say, "Hey, I'm so excited about our meeting today. Tell you what I'm going to do. I'm just going to crack this laptop. I've got some great charts. I've got some great graphs."

And as soon as they start cracking that laptop, what's the first thing that runs through your mind? "Oh, my God! How long is this going to be?". As soon as we see a sales rep cracking a laptop, we starting thinking... 'cause it looks like they're moving in.

So we move forward. And they're like, "You don't understand. I use different colors. I use different fonts. Some of my slides come off like that. Some of them come off like that. I have this one that comes off like a paper airplane. It goes like that! Shhhzzt! It is so good".

I said, "You're right. I'm riveted."

Power Point is not necessarily the enemy. But the way that people execute from Power Point is typically the enemy. And I want you to remember this: when it comes to visual aids, you are the star and the visual aid is the bit player. If ever your visual aid starts to upstage you, you lose control of the presentation.

And here is the easiest thing to remember. Look at all of your slides before you make any presentation. And if you can look at those slides and you can ask yourself this question: "Is this slide for me or is it for them?". Because if it's for you to get you through your presentation, scrap it. If it's for them, so that they can visually understand your presentation better, then keep it. And that's the variable.

Now, here is this. Most people go... I'm a travel agent. I'm selling tickets to Hawaii. Most people would go: "Bullet point number one: You should go to Hawaii because they have beautiful white sand beaches. Bullet point number two: You should go to Hawaii because they have incredible dancing hula girls. Bullet point number three: You should go to Hawaii because they have incredible sunsets in the evening".

Is that a visual aid?

No. That's text and bullet points to help you get through your presentation.

A true authentic visual aid is visual. 

It should be: A picture of the white sandy beaches. A picture of the beautiful dancing hula girls and then a picture of the beautiful sunsets in the evening.

That's an authentic visual aid. But people have gone absolutely bonkers with power point.

"Oh, no, we need more slides. More slides! More slides!" 

I've seen as many as 220 slides in one sales presentation. I thought I was going to shoot myself. They're like: "What do you think?" I'm like: "I think I just found the cure for insomnia. 

3. Finally, WATCH it a third time without reading the transcript. Then try to tell another person in English what the video is about including the 4 key points.


visual aid: any tool that helps to make something more clear visually
riveted: captivated
scrap: discard something
bonkers: crazy