My friend Simon Morton, the author of The Presentation Lab, puts it beautifully: “no other software has become synonymous with an activity like PowerPoint has become with presenting.” Presenting is, of course, an ancient form of communication that was around long before Bill Gates started Microsoft (can you imagine Gandhi, King, or Churchill presenting with slides?). To break the mold, here are five goals for your next presentation:
- No Slides
A sure-fire way to stand out from the crowd. If you are well prepared, the feeling is liberating and energizing. Tell your story, engage your audience, create an experience—they won’t ask for their money back because you didn’t bring slides.
- Few Slides
Corporate presentations average one slide per minute. Two slides per minute are considered a minimum. This is crazy. Try one slide per five minutes, because each one is so important—experience the difference.
- No Template
Edward Tufte, the author of The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, says of templates: “At a minimum, a presentation format should do no harm. Yet the PowerPoint style routinely disrupts, dominates, and trivializes content. Thus, PowerPoint presentations too often resemble a school play—very loud, very slow, and very simple.”* So, drop the meeting logo and banner to give yourself a blank page, and fill it with something content rich. *Tufte, The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint, p. 22.
- No Bullets
Slides don’t kill audiences, the bullets do! Bullets are almost always speaker notes for the presenter, not helpful information for the audience. Other forms of visual information do a much better job and should be used as inspiration: movie posters, print ads, billboards, album covers, and book covers. Create bullet-free slides, and spare your audience death by PPT!
- No Looking
Even a slide-heavy presentation can be saved by knowing it so well you don’t need to look back at the screen to know which slide you are on. Set up your laptop so that it is in FRONT of you, and use it as a comfort monitor. The best software lets you see the current and next slides, to make transitions seamless. If you turn your back to the audience to read your slides, game over!