The web is littered with articles giving helpful advice for improving PowerPoint presentations. However, these presentations rarely improve. Why? The advice out there is helpful, but bland. improving your presentations involves turning those standard guidelines on their head.
- Find your “solution story” and share that with your audience.
There are the three parts of a solution story:
Act I: The Problem
Act II: The Solution
Act III: Happily Ever After
Every good presentation has at least one cycle of a story in which a pressing problem was solved and everyone ended up joyful. If you are presenting several products or ideas, repeat the process for each one.
- Don’t confuse presentation slides with the story.
Slides are like costumes and props on a theatrical stage. They aren’t the characters or the story. They aren’t even the plot. They are tools that help the actor, or presenter, convey a story to the audience.
- Say more with less.
No one was ever asked to give a TED Talk based on how many words he or she could cram onto a slide. The ability to say more with fewer words is a skill that makes a presenter more powerful. However, such a skill takes a lot of talent, craft and practice—and time. As the 17th-century mathematician Blaise Pascal observed, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”
- Unless you are a graphic artist, use a template.
Microsoft and other software developers have created hundreds of generic layout templates that can serve as the frame of your slides. Choose one that is simple, not overused, and complements your company’s branding guidelines. Be consistent with your fonts, colors and layout. If you can add simple charts and graphs from the template, make sure they adhere to company colors and formats as well.
- Don’t think of your slide deck as the same thing as a brochure or a leave-behind.
“Can I get a copy of your presentation?” may sound like a compliment to the presenter, but it’s not. Why? The slides are not the presentation. The presentation is the solution story told by a presenter using great techniques, editorial skill and practice. Create other types of materials if you need to leave behind the ideas shared in the presentation.