New Scientist published a fascinating interview this week with Peter Norvig, Chief Research Officer at Google. One of his minor claims to fame is “The Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation”. This is a spoof PowerPoint deck showing how poorly PowerPoint is suited to some forms of communication. You can download a copy here.
It put me in mind of some tips I have been applying in developing my new seminar, The Three Hour MBA.
- Your visual aids are there to aid your audience, not you.
Design them to enhance understanding, enjoyment and memory
- Prepare your presentation in the right order:
– message – what you want to convey
– story – how you want to convey it
– content – what needs to go in
– visuals – to best make your content understandable, memorable and enjoyable
- Less is more
use fewer slides, with less on them. This will force the emphasis onto you, your narrative and how you deliver it
- If you must use text, use big letters. I know point sizes vary, so
– avoid fancy fonts – go for clarity
– for most fonts, use a point size around half the age of your oldest audience member
This will make your slides easy to read and restrict the amount of words you try and use
- Stunning images are memorable and create a wow factor (the latter can be good or bad)
- Consistency and simplicity are key
Use the same fonts, colour palette and background on every slide
- Make diagrams as simple as possible (but not more so)
These are the only reason to learn how to do complex builds and animation effects… so you can explain your diagram more clearly. Otherwise, cut out all other animations and builds. All they do is shout out “!look what I learned how to do”
- If you must put a lot of text on your slide, give your audience time to read it before you start speaking.
My technique is to turn to the slide and read it slowly and silently to myself. This gives my audience a cue to do the same. When I have finished, I will know they have too (I read slowly), so I will turn back to them. The movement cues my audience to shift their focus back to me.
- Bullets. I hate bullet points. They may be better on a slide than lots of text, but are still on most presenters’ slides to remind them what to say. Here’s a challenge: do away with them!
- Never, never, never use a PowerPoint deck to brief for an important and complex decision.
It is the wrong medium. It encourages simplification (which is inappropriate) and discourages questioning (which is inexcusable).