If you want to avoid Death by PowerPoint, make sure and listen to the Presentation Bullet Point Design podcast by Fearless Presentations. Doug Staneart gives a number of tips to help you design better bullet points so that you are using your slides as effective visual aids for your audience. These tips help you make your speeches audience focused so that your listeners will enjoy your presentation and better retain the information that you provide. We also cover a new TechFind that will help you insert inspirational quotes into your presentations.
Tech Find: 55,000 Amazing Quotes
When you are designing a presentation, sometimes you need an inspirational quote, or maybe you are making a point and you want to quote a famous person who agrees with your point. With the internet, it is really easy to search the web for the perfect quote, but a fun iPhone app can cut your search time down significantly. The 55,000 Amazing Quotes app is an easy way to find the perfect quote for any presentation. You can search for quotes by author or just type in a keyword. Doug does a sample search during the podcast and reads a few of the quotes that came up in the app. The only downside of the app is that we've found a few duplicate quotes that are attributed to different authors, so when you find a good quote, make sure to do a quick Google search to make sure the quote is attributed properly.
Presentation Bullet Point Design | Avoid Death by PowerPoint
Doug starts this session with a quick review of Podcast 3 - How to Design a Speech, because the tips covered in that session make this session much easier to follow and understand. In that podcast, Doug explains how most audience participants won't remember any more than five key bullet points in a presentation. The more content that is crammed into a presentation, the less likely anyone will retain the information. Doug uses an analogy of the fast food restaurants Jack-in-the-Box versus In-N-Out Burger. A presentation with dozens (or hundreds) of bullet points is like the menu at Jack-in-the-Box. It has hundreds of products, so wait times are long and food quality isn't great. In-N-Out Burger, though just has burgers and fries. As a result, service is pretty fast and food quality is great. Presentations are the same way. If you cover a lot of different bullets, your audience will be confused and bored, and the presentation will be long. A more focused presentation with just a few bullets is better received, though.
What are the Most Important Things that My Audience Needs to Know?
Once you have a great title (See Podcast 4 Start with a Great Title), a good technique for determining what to cover in your bullet points is to ask yourself, "What are the absolute, most important things that my audience needs to know about this topic?" This technique will help you scrutinize your content so you are only including the most important pieces of content. A good way to think about this process is to pretend that you are an attorney and you are presenting your case to the jury. Make your bullet points cover those most important items, and you'll win over your audience.
Bullets are Visual Aids, Not Cheat Notes for the Presenter
Make your bullet points complete sentences instead of abbreviations. These sentences should be provable statements. Avoid questions. For instance, a bullet point like "Quarterly Expenses" tells the audience nothing. "Expenses Decreased by 7% Last Quarter" is much better. The later can be proven with data. In the same manner, a bullet such as "What Happened to Expenses Last Quarter?" again tells the audience nothing. The audience may remember the question, but not the answer. Doug gives a number of examples of how to take poor bullet points and make them much more "audience focused."
If the Purpose of the Presentation is to Persuade, Add the "Why" into the Bullet
If your purpose is to persuade, make sure and add in a benefit to the audience for agreeing with you. For instance, in the example above, you can add the benefit of a bonus to the listener. "Expenses Decreased by 7% Last Quarter, so Quarterly Bonus Increased."
Make sure to subscribe to the podcast to access new sessions when they are released.