I’ll never be out of work.
I teach presentation skills, so I spend a lot of time covering best practices for using Microsoft PowerPoint, the best — and — worst thing to happen to the presentation business in the last 20 years.
PowerPoint was a breath of fresh air for speakers and audiences alike because this clever software program allowed even the most rudimentary speaker to create a pretty good presentation complete with talking points, photos, and video.
The problem now is that the program is so ubiquitous that everyone from high school students to professional speakers use it. Despite the fact that the basic guidelines for succeeding with PowerPoint are very straightforward, very few presenters follow the success formula.
We still have to endure presentations with way too many slides.
We still see photo collages with four to six images jammed onto a single slide. We still see slides with so much copy that the fonts can’t be read by anyone who’s not in the front row (In most presentation audiences, no one is sitting in the front row).
What I find really strange is that presenters seem to flaunt the fact that they don’t care if the slide show can even be seen.
I’d like to have a dollar for every time I’ve heard a speaker say, “You may not be able to see this in the back.”
So once again, allow me to present the simple guidelines for using PowerPoint.
- Only use one large image per slide
- Employ oversize fonts that minimize slide margins
- Use no more than five bullet points per slide
- Use no more than seven words per bullet point
- Move the projector away from the projection wall until the image fills up the screen
- Test the presentation, including video and sound before anyone comes into the room
If you just follow these guidelines, your presentation will be much better than most, and I won’t collect a dollar because people will be able to read your slides all the way from the back of the room.
Michael Angelo Caruso is president of Edison House, a Michigan-based consulting company. His blog appears regularly on dbusiness.com.