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The World's First Social War

powerpoint addiction - thinking differently

Death by pptThere are four typical types of powerpoint presentations -

A) The Installation Manual - if you shrink the font you can fit more words on a page!
B) The Minesweeper - who doesn't understand a simple 30 by 30 grid?
C) The Subway Map - following the flowchart to hell
D) The Image Inspired - MoMA inspired guru creates artistic statements that show his/her brilliance rather than transmitting ideas.

We've all been there.  The colleague who asks for more charts, the manager who asks for more detail and the creative guy who demands that you utilize his icons and images, most likely stock photos we've all seen too many times, or Creative Commons images taken/stolen from Flickr.

But how many of these well intentioned contributors are thinking about powerpoint the platform and how many of thinking about the presentation dynamic?

Learning #1

A presentation is not a series of powerpoint slides.  It is a presentation.  Powerpoint is just a tool to help illustrate a story. 

Learning #2

Your presentation should have two purposes -

  1. Convey Information
  2. Inspire Insight and Understanding

If your slide doesn't serve one of these two purposes, rethink it.

Learning #3

Know your environment

Your grids may be brilliant.  Your images may be remarkable.  Your flowcharts may convey details we'd never considered.  And each of them have a place. 

Is that place in:

  • an executive boardroom? 
  • an office-wide lunch and learn? 
  • a printed leave behind?  

Each of these three environments should have their own tone, story and yes, presentation.  Choose your weapons wisely.

My Perspective

Think back to the days before you had powerpoint. Think back to your family get togethers when as a kid you were forced on "stage" to "perform" your latest skill - ballet, gymnastics, karate, piano, singing, dance... you didn't need powerpoint to tell your story.  You conveyed your information differently, creatively.  The boardroom expects powerpoint.  But that doesn't mean you have to be tied to convention either.

Advice From the Twitter Community

  • Heather Rast (@heatherrast) - Instead of staid descriptive slide titles, try conversational and pithy ones: not "5 Steps to Repair Rep" but "Pony Up" - People expect "Agenda" slide & read it as the list it is. But "The Gooey Center" instead is intriguing & says, "U better pay attn!"

  • Katie Konrath - (@katiekonrath) - Less=More, Create focal points, never forget focus should be on you, not the slides. Interesting, not distracting. Hope this helps!

 - - Key Takeaway - -

Don't look at power point as a format or a canvas.  Look at it as supporting media.  Your slides don't tell your story in a live presentation.  You do.  Keep your slide short, strong and punchy.

You cannot tell your story on your own terms in a printed handout.  Your slides may have to do the talking.  Build appropriately.

photo credit here