Powerpoint: Extreme Makeover

Powerpoint is alive and well but it’s undergoing a makeover, an extreme one. Which should be welcome news, except that something’s missing; content.

By now most of us have learnt what not to do, either by experiencing it ourselves or via the mockery of our colleagues. But just in case you’re one of the 3 people on the planet who has a computer and hasn’t heard the phrase “death by powerpoint” here’s what not to do.

There’s plenty of information out there on what you should do as well;

And apparently people are listening. I’ve noticed a much greater use of clever images in presentations, and while the text slide is not dead, it’s certainly playing more of a “supporting” role in presentations.

However what many presenters seem to have heard is “use more images, use videos – your audience will love you”. With the result that I’ve seen old videos, an image of a mossy tree used to demonstrate “embrace”, and worst of all listened to a presenter explain why he chose particular images to represent certain concepts. If you have to explain your choice of image then I’d say you have the wrong image.

What was missing was a story, a red thread, a concept behind the presentation.  What was missing was content.

In fact the best presentation I’ve seen all week was a rather old fashioned one, fairly ugly template, fairly text heavy. But there was content. There was a concept. There was a point of view. The presenter knew his content, and talked to the audience, looked at us, engaged us.

I suspect by racing to fill our presentations with the great, dramatic images that will deliver the high impact we’ve forgotten that old old golden rule. Content is King. And we’ve certainly forgotten the original purpose of our presentation – engaging our audience.

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2 thoughts on “Powerpoint: Extreme Makeover”

  1. You’ve made a good point here about the importance of content. Changing to the Presentation Zen approach isn’t, in itself, a magic answer. There’s a danger that the reason for giving a presentation can get lost. Style and look of slides are important and can complement and support what you have to say, but aren’t a substitute for good content.

    1. Thank you;

      Content is what I’m “paying” for when I give them my attention – design and images can either help me get their message or destroy their message – but you’re right, it doesn’t ever replace the content

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