PowerPoint is a funny old thing. We seem to love it and hate it in equal measure. Our heart sinks when the presenter opens their first slide, and yet, the first thing we do when we have to start writing our own presentation…yep, we go straight to PowerPoint.

But the problem isn’t PowerPoint itself. No matter which presentation software you use, your slides can enhance your presentation, making it more memorable and interesting for your audience. The risks are down to user error: relying too heavily on slides to try to communicate your points rather than illustrate them.

Here are some dangers and how to avoid them:

Too wordy. Your audience can’t listen to you and read lots of words at the same time. INSTEAD, try to follow the rule of “ less is more”, and just allow yourself one thought per slide. This forces you to be succinct: people don’t remember vague stuff!

Bo-ring! A slide full of words is just a bit dull, isn’t it? INSTEAD, use an image to invite emotion. The human brain remembers images and words much more easily than words alone, so find a striking picture to accompany your point for that slide (don’t do this on every slide, though – anything repeated too much becomes boring in its own right!)

Data overload. Of course, some presentations need to show graphs and statistics, but be mindful of overkill. INSTEAD, remember that you’re telling a STORY, and your data is just part of that. Use the numbers as part of your narrative by picking out the headlines you need to make your point so that you don’t leave the hard work to your audience.

Numbers numbers numbers do not a create an emotional response from your audience. INSTEAD, picturise them to make them less abstract. Show me what they LOOK like, invite me to think about what they FEEL like.

Opinions mean nothing without substance – no one cares what you think if you can’t back it up. INSTEAD, use your slides (this is where they come in to their own) to display data, testimonials and images as evidence supporting your opinion.

Fancy-pants graphics can distract from your points. INSTEAD, only use logos/images/decoration if they add something to your message. People are easily distracted, and you want them to be listening to you, not marvelling at your animated logos.

Patronising by reading your slides out. Generally speaking, your audience can read for themselves! INSTEAD, use a few words to make points that you will develop as you speak, and give your audience time to read and digest them first.

Starting with the slides when you begin to plan your presentation. You’ve got it the wrong way round. INSTEAD, start with the STORY. Imagine a Hollywood movie: the director doesn’t start planning the shots until they’ve got a great story to tell. PowerPoint can enhance, but if you don’t have a good story in the first place your beautiful slides won’t matter – you’ll have lost your audience within a couple of minutes.

There are about 30 million PowerPoint presentations around the world every day! But how many of them are exciting and memorable? How many presenters have the courage to step outside of the normal usage and create a presentation where their slides are simply there to tell their story?

Get in touch and let me help you incorporate your slides in to your next brilliant presentation.