If you deliver presentations at the office, you’ll often look for ways to create better PowerPoint presentations. Let’s face it. Most meetings are pretty boring. They are also repetitive. So, if you are a speaker, and you deliver PowerPoint slideshows, they can be a challenge. As the speaker, we want to do something a little different. Also, your audience will want you to do things a little different every once in a while. So, below are a few simple ways to create better PowerPoint presentations without a lot of additional effort.
I’m embarrassed to say that, just this past week, I delivered a terrible PowerPoint speech to my office. Keep in mind, I’ve been teaching public speaking skills for over 20 years. I also deliver two to four classes, workshops, or speeches every week. So, if I can fall into this trap, anyone can fall into this trap.
The Beginning of the Week from Hell.
I spent all last weekend designing an internal presentation for my company. We have a bunch of dramatic and important changes going on right now. Everyone is pretty excited about these changes, but they are also a little nervous. Knowing this, I spent a lot of time laying out a lot of the details about the new processes. I even skipped church last Sunday to make sure the presentation was perfect. (Yes, I feel a little guilty about it.)
The Monday morning presentation started pretty well. My energy and examples kept everyone both informed and entertained. Then, I got into my PowerPoint slideshow with all of the details. By the time I got to the third slide, I started getting interrupted with questions. I confused everyone with too much data. When they got confused, they got agitated.
I talked to one of my most senior instructors later in the day. She said, “Doug, you presented the information well, but you gave them too much data in too short a time. So, it got confusing. You should have broken that presentation up into a few pieces.” I laughed because that is the exact advice I would have given to one of my class members.
So, in this session, I going to get back to basics and review some of the important ways to improve a speech. (By the way, if three tips aren’t enough, make sure to visit Public Speaking 101 for a BUNCH more.)
Three Simple Ways to Create Better PowerPoint Presentations
Create a Better Presentation First. Then, Create a Better PowerPoint Presentation.
If you are an avid reader of our blog posts or podcast listener, you’ll know that PowerPoint is a visual aid. It isn’t the actual speech. A big mistake that people often make is creating the slideshow first, then trying to figure out what to say. On the weekly webinar that we do to let people know about Fearless Presentations ®, I call this the Kung Fu Movie Technique. When I was a kid, my brother and I used to watch Bruce Lee movies on Saturday morning. They were always fun because they were dubbed in English. The mouth movement never really matched the sound.
Presenters do this as well. By starting with your PowerPoint slideshow, you’ll later have to insert words to fit the slide. Instead, Designing a Good Speech first, and your presentation will be designed a lot better. Then, insert visual aids that will help you explain the content of your speech better.
Insert More Stories and Examples.
The backbone of every presentation is the examples and stories that you tell to clarify your points. This is a major focus of our presentation skills classes. It is a major focus because most people overlook it. They will say, “My audience doesn’t like stories,” or “They just want the data.” This is untrue. Let me give you a couple of examples. (By the way, for fun ways to add stories into your PowerPoint presentations, see Anecdotal Stories for Speeches.)
Clint vs. Trump Debate
In one of the Presidential debates in 2016, Lester Holt asked Clinton why she was the better candidate for jobs. She answered with a long list of campaign promises from raising the minimum wage to debt-free college. When Holt asked Trump, though, he answered a little differently.
So we’re losing our good jobs, so many of them. When you look at what’s happening in Mexico, a friend of mine who builds plants said it’s the eighth wonder of the world. They’re building some of the biggest plants anywhere in the world, some of the most sophisticated, some of the best plants. With the United States, as he said, not so much. So Ford is leaving. You see that their small car division leaving. Thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio. They’re all leaving. And we can’t allow it to happen anymore.
Obama vs. Romney Debate
Just to be fair and balanced, here is a similar example from the last election. Bob Schieffer moderated the last debate between Obama and Romney. Schieffer first asked about reducing Middle Eastern terrorism.
Romney started with a mini story about the Arab Spring, but then, just like Clinton, he got long winded. In the next two sentences, he briefly talked about Syria, Libya, Mali, and Egypt. However, he didn’t tell the story about either of these situations. To be honest… Even today, I have no idea where Mali is or why I would care about it. He didn’t tell us. Finally, he congratulated President Obama “taking out Osama bin Laden.”
Obama’s answered differently.
“…when we received that phone call, I immediately made sure that, number one, that we did everything we could to secure those Americans who were still in harm’s way… and most importantly, that we would go after those who killed Americans and we would bring them to justice. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
But I think it’s important to step back and think about what happened in Libya. Keep in mind that I and Americans took leadership in organizing an international coalition that made sure that we were able to, without putting troops on the ground at the cost of less than what we spent in two weeks in Iraq, liberate a country that had been under the yoke of dictatorship for 40 years. Got rid of a despot who had killed Americans and as a consequence, despite this tragedy, you had tens of thousands of Libyans after the events in Benghazi marching and saying America is our friend. We stand with them.”
Give Your Audience a Nice Presentation Handout.
An easy way to create better PowerPoint presentations is to get away from your slideshow from time to time. A well designed presentation handout can really help! I use this one a lot in workshops and convention breakout sessions. In today’s world, most people think of a speech as a person clicking bullets and talking about slides. So, this is an easy tip that audiences will appreciate. Not only is it more interesting, but your audience will likely retain more of your content as well.
A few months ago, I delivered a breakout session at a Dental convention. The topic was how to use presentations to gain customers. Although I created a great PowerPoint presentation, I also created a nice handout for them. I used the handout more than the slideshow. I gave them space on the handout to create notes related to their specific practice. I’ll wager that many of them kept that handout even though they likely threw away a lot of other material from the convention. The handout had both my gems of wisdom along with their interpretation of the content — Their notes.
For details about Effective Handouts for Presentations, click here. … And, yes, there is a handout for that post.)
The Absolute Best Way to Create Better Presentations
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