It’s horrible… but you can save it.
As a professional motivational speaker and comedian for over a quarter of a century I have strong opinions about the use of PowerPoint. And to point out the obvious…my perspective is as a presenter…not as an audience member.
In my opinion is that 95% of you… No, make that 99% of you… abuse this powerful tool. And by abuse I mean absolutely, totally, and wildly fail.
But the good news is that I have two very specific techniques that you can use to make your PowerPoint presentations not only better but quite good.
The first technique is to use fewer words. And by fewer words I mean you need to eliminate 90 to 95% of the words on your current slides. Your audience, who ever they are, is there to see YOU. Not your slides. They are not interested in JUST the information. They want some information and YOU.
If they needed JUST the information you could hand them an article. Or they could read the book. But they are there to see you and to get a sense of how you think. If you are having them read your slides – or heaven forbid if you are reading your slides for them – you are absolutely screwing up. You’re delivering information only. They could have saved a headache and just read your info at home
Answer: Put one or two words on the slide. (Yes you heard me right. One word. Maybe 3 or 4. That’s it.)
This means that if you’re talking about your mission statement you are not going to include your entire mission statement on a slide. There will be no bullets. No paragraphs. Instead you’re going to put the word “Mission.” Then the audience will turn from the screen and look at YOU, listen to YOU, and learn from YOU. And all of that is very good.
One word on a slide is a powerful technique for you to let the audience know exactly where you are in the program. They have a placeholder in your presentation to help them understand. But by only having one word they are forced to look at you and to listen to you; and of course that’s the purpose. You are the presenter. You are the star. If you make PowerPoint is the star just mail you might as well mail them your presentation, and stay home drinking hot chocolate in the privacy of your own jamies. (Coincidentally, that’s what I’m doing right now. Just sayin’…)
By the way, if you have bullets on your slide you have too many words. (I know that half of you reading this article just fainted. You’re ok. Get up. Shake it off. You’re fine.) Instead of the bullets put your headline with ONE word and then you’ll give the details — the stuff that would have been in the bullets — using the spoken word. You’re a presenter right? You can talk. And you should.
Trust me: you’ll put the focus back on you.
The second concrete technique you can use to improve your PowerPoint presentations is by eliminating most of your slides. Just like the number of words per slide, the number of slides per presentation has to be drastically reduced. Don’t cut out one or two slides. I’m asking you to cut out 70 or 80% of your sites. In my hour and a half motivational presentation I have exactly 20 slides. 90 minutes; 20 slides. Why? Because I’m a professional speaker; not a professional PowerPoint demonstrator. My clients hire me for me and my take on their world; they hire me because I have a unique voice and some great information; not for having a ton of slides.
Because my slides are rare they are very powerful. The audience remembers them, comments upon them, and they each add value to my presentation. My slides are good partly because there are so few of them. It’s a little like chocolate: one or two pieces is heavenly. A truckload of chocolate just makes it cheap. Over kill. (Though who among us wouldn’t like to know for sure?)
If you have so many slides that you are audience is just looking at your slides and not at you than you have clearly missed the point. Clearly your slides are more important than you are, and for my money that’s a huge mistake.
Don’t forget that people want to see you. They want your personality, your uniqueness, and your ideas. They do not want to see endless bullets and long paragraphs on your slides; they want to see you.
The main thing to remember as a presenter is to be reminded that our audiences don’t want us just for our knowledge or our information. They want us! If they want just our information they can read our website, read the article, or they can just read the stupid PowerPoint slides that we can email them.
But audiences are too hip and sophisticated now for this type of junk. It’s time to step up, put on your Big Boy Pants, and trim the number of words and slides in your presentation. (Replacing them with you and your voice and your words. I know you’re scared. Don’t be shy, be strong! You can do it.)
PowerPoint is a terrific tool. It can illustrate points, help your audience to understand where they are in your presentation, and even communicate information that is very difficult to communicate with just words. But it is nearly always used poorly. Horribly. Tragically.
But not by you. Right? If you use it correctly… Which means don’t over use it… You’ll be well on your way to being a master presenter.
Motivational Speaker, Powerpoint Presenter, Funny Speaker
Read another article by Brad about his ideas for Powerpoint success here:
Brad Montgomery is a funny motivational speaker who speaks about happiness at work and how happiness can be used as a tool to increase profitability. (Oh, and he’s laugh-out-loud funny.) To learn more about Brad please visit his website http://www.bradmontgomery.com Or you can visit his blog http://www.bradmontgomery.com/blog.
The beer industry is complicated with a three-tier system and fifty different laws in fifty different states. To be successful in beer, you need to thrive in change.
Because Brad helps individuals approach change-management with a positive attitude — which means greater productivity for them and their organizations. And because Brad is funny, the message is sticky.
I recently worked for a major beer maker for their Finance Townhall. (Which I think is beer-speak for, “Important meeting for all of their finance folks.”)
I’m not sure what was coolest:
• Working for a company whose product I’ve loved since I was … er …. 21 years old.
• Having the CFO call the event “Really, Really Cool!” (Thanks Tracy!)
• Or getting a glowing referral from their Senior Director in Finance Operations.
…. what do you think?
Ok….wanna read the cool letter? Sure you do.
We hired Brad Montgomery to speak to our entire financial team at a Town Hall here at MillerCoors. We flew in people from all over the country bringing our entire team together because we are going through a significant transition which will be difficult, exciting, and sometimes painful.
We asked Brad to help put this change into a more positive context, as there is some push-back from a few of our team members. And because the stakes are high we need to make sure our entire team is on board; we need to make sure our team is performing at its best.
The senior team members were able to meet with Brad by phone to make sure he had an excellent grasp of our over-all issues, our company, our lingo, and especially what we felt our team members needed to hear and understand. And then we more or less crossed our fingers.
As you know, there is a significant amount of risk involved in bringing a speaker into such an important meeting. But I can assure you that hiring Brad Montgomery was exactly the right decision. It was a first-class presentation that hit on all of our key points and was delivered in a fresh way that helped make this the most appreciated presentation we’ve had in years.
Anyone who might have peeked in the room might easily have got the wrong impression. They would have seen everything from belly laughs to extreme interactivity to even a flash mob. They might have mistakenly thought that because our people were having fun they were not learning.
Brad did an excellent job combining his message on happiness at work with our deep desire to help ease our people through these upcoming changes… And best of all he did it in his own, unique and high-energy way that made the learning fun. And we were convinced that because the delivery was so fresh the message was received in a way that never would have been possible without him.
It was a high-impact, hilarious presentation that delivered a strong business punch.
If you are reading this letter, you are considering using Brad for your next meeting. You might be wondering about how anybody with his brand of humor can deliver a powerful business message. You might be wondering if your people will connect and relate to him. You might be wondering if he can create a customized message based on your needs, your organization, and your people. I’m telling you to set your mind at ease, pick up the phone, and make the call to Brad Montgomery.
Hiring Brad Montgomery was one of the smartest things we did for our meeting. Hire Brad…you’re in good hands.
Sr. Director, Operations Finance