A presentation is a sale. Whether you're selling a product, a service or an idea it's all the same; it's a sale. What we need to understand is people don't buy what you're selling, they buy you. That's why you need to make sure you design your slides around your presentation, instead of your presentation around your slides. The slides are not there to be your notes, or worse; your cue cards. They are there to complement what you're saying. Put too much focus on the slides and you'll wreck your presentation.
This came up with a friend of mine. He was interviewing for a new job and had to put together a power point presentation to show his stuff. The head hunter that got him the interview reviewed his slides and said they needed more color. My friend called me in a panic and asked if I could come by and help him dress them up. I said sure, but can I ask a question? Why do they need more color? My friend said that the head hunter just said they did. I asked if they fit the presentation? My friend said yes. So I told him I'd be glad to come and help him with his color scheme, but the company isn't going to hire his slides, they're going to hire him.
The point? It's not about the slides, it's about the presenter. Do a great job presenting and you won't even need the slides. Add a poorly designed power point presentation to that same presentation and it could flop. Let me give you an example. We've all heard of JFK's famous inaugural address in 1961. Here's an example of a bad power point presentation to go along with it:
If you really want to have some fun, watch this comedian pick bad power point apart:
If you want an example of how to use power point well, click here.
Remember, design a good presentation first; add slides later!
Thanks to Garr Reynolds for two of these links that led to the inspiration for this post. Garr wrote the book on presentations, Presentation Zen.
PS - My friend got the job by the way, and without adding color. :)
If you liked this post, be sure to visit my other blog: Jim Sharp