PowerPoint is perhaps the most maligned program since the advent of the digital age.
Created as a backdrop for people who needed to present in front of others, it replaced flip charts and overhead projections.
It was inexpensive and came with a suite of other programs that helped businesses and individuals to be more productive (except for the learning curve). I’m sure that in some point in time you’ve seen the poster, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Use PowerPoint.”
Early on Powerpoint was created by programmers and engineers and lacked sophistication and, well, a designer’s eye. Over the years more sophistication and enhancements were added, but it was still PowerPoint. The creators of the PowerPoint presentation program were the biggest culprits with a hefty dose of “programmeritis”. Yes, I think that is a new word. While a lot of the criticism was well deserved, much of it was not.
Having a tool is not the same as being a master of the tool. And let’s face it, we are not all designers. Digging deeper into a program allows for mastery or some form of it.
Let’s take a look at a scenario that most presenters take.
- Take notes on what to talk about.
- Organize the notes into a semi-cohesive talk.
- Open PowerPoint and find a template.
- Add a logo and/or some other branding element(s).
- Insert a slide into the template.
- Cut and paste from one’s notes into slide.
- Insert some clipart that seems to back up the text.
- Make notes fit into slide by making text larger or smaller.
- Continue to cut an paste all the other notes.
- Save presentation.
- Bore the heck out of your audience on game day.
Good use of a presentation:
- Use it to enhance your verbal presentation not to recite from.
- You have to assume that your audience can read so outside of advancing to the next slide, you have made yourself superfluous.
- Don’t read verbatim what you have on your slides — it’s boring!
- Create a template that brands your company, product or business.
- Look beyond the program’s built in templates that everyone has seen before ad nauseam.
- Create or look for images or art that is attractive, informative and poignant to the presentation.
- Be honestly critical of your work. If there is someone you trust to be constructively critical — ASK.
- Review and practice. Look at the slides and add or remove any necessary or unnecessary information.