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Tips for Avoiding Death by PowerPoint

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Oh No… It’s the Dreaded Death by PowerPoint! This is a common term, thrown around by instructors, trainers and speakers worldwide. It’s true, you can kill an audience by boring them to death with long, disorganized presentations. Here are some quick tips and resources to help create engaging and memorable experiences, one PowerPoint at a time.

Did you know that there are 300 million PowerPoint users in the world? This means there are about a million presentations and meetings happening right now. 1 Just imagine the potential for high fatality rates--it’s truly mind blowing!

Alexei Kapterev created a short and informative slide show that provides life-saving tips in a fun and humorous way. My favorite: “Bullet points don’t kill people. People kill people, unintentionally and yet regularly.” He attributes these tragedies to a lack of significance, structure, simplicity and rehearsal. Go Here to view this entertaining and informative PowerPoint presentation. Heck, try using it as a template for your next presentation.

Lynda.com is another great resource for enhancing your current presentation skills. It’s true there are a lot of free resources on the Net, but Lynda.com provides more in-depth and accurate information. A course worth looking into is Presentation Fundamentals with Tatiana Kolovou. In this course, many commonly stated phrases are explained in detail, such as: ‘know your audience’. She addresses this common theme and provides practical techniques that go beyond most free resources. For instance, she discusses how to effectively connect with an audience that has a wide range of expertise on a topic. She suggests using phrases like, ‘For those that are hearing this for the first time,’ followed by a brief explanation; or ‘For some of you this is not new,’ followed by a reference to what is already known. So get serious about your skills and check out these instructional videos led by industry experts. You can preview the course here.

Lastly, try using audience response systems to quickly survey your audience. Start the presentation with a question that opens the door to a significant statistic that drives home your overall purpose. For example, let’s say you are giving a presentation on eating healthy. Ask your audience, “How many times in a week do you eat French fries?” Once the results are in and displayed to the group, follow-up with a statistic like: “French Fries, which are known as one of the unhealthiest foods, are the most widely consumed form of vegetables in the US.”2 From there explore and dazzle your audience with your insight and explanation of why we continue to eat foods that we know are bad for us, and how can we change these habits.

So the next time you create a presentation, keep it simple and focused. Remember that the PowerPoint slides are there to simply drive home the main points. Limit yourself to adding one point per slide, and keep it short. Don’t be tempted to camouflage your ideas and hide them in a sea of text--keep them upfront and the center of your presentations. So have fun and let’s change the world, one successful presentation at a time.

1. Kapterev, Alexei “Death by PowerPoint (and how to fight it).” Slide Share. 2007. Web 23 July 2015

2. Kidd, Deanna “Shocking Fast Food Statistics.” Ohio Medical Group. 2012. Web 23 July 2015.



Categories: Audience Response

Tags: audience response systems , audience polling , powerpoint polling , powerpoint polling software , audience response , death by powerpoint

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