Have You Committed Murder by PowerPoint?

Concordia Consulting’s monthly series on presentations skills continues this week. Last month, I shared information on preparing for a board meeting. The principles of preparation are the same whether you and your group are preparing for a board meeting, a sales meeting, or a staff meeting. Step one defined a clearly-stated purpose. Today we will consider the role of visuals in a presentation.

Too often when I work with a team on preparing a presentation, the first thing they do is head over to PowerPoint and start making slides. While visuals are critical, and can be helpful for both the presenter as well as the audience by adding structure to the presentation, the presentation must have structure first and visuals second.

So, step one is to formalize the purpose and put it in a prominent place the entire time you are writing and thinking about the presentation. Remember: a clear purpose for every meeting you hold is imperative for success. For example, “Lead fundraising efforts for new facility by finding donors and soliciting funds.”

Do your visuals:

  • Use pictures and graphics?
  • Keep words to a minimum*?
  • Contribute to the point you are making, especially if you are using animation?
  • Help to keep the audience’s attention?

*If anyone can read your PowerPoint and know your presentation, you’ve gone too far. Your visuals should enhance YOU and the presentation, they should not be the presentation. If there is a lot of text (perhaps financials or contraindications of a drug), provide supplementary text in a board book or handout.

For visuals to enhance, make sure each one:

  • Helps to support the purpose of the presentation
  • Is crisp and clear
  • Shows a graphic or picture that will help focus your audience (and you!)

If you aren’t great at creating visuals yourself, software programs can help. In addition to PowerPoint, Prezi creates engaging graphics for presentations.

Visuals help you stay focused, so I hope you will use them.

How do you like to use visuals?

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