Change your PowerPoint Habits
I attended a breakout session by Jeffery Gitomer at the National Speakers Association Convention in Orlando this Summer. His topic was "Why your PowerPoint presentations suck and mine do not." I thought that was a rather catchy title and decided to attend. His presentation was totally different from any I had seen before. Parts of it I found annoying or confrontational, but on balance he made me think about my presentations and I ended up making some changes that have paid off.
Jeffrey turned conventional wisdom on its head in every possible way he could. For example, when we entered the room there was a big notice on the screen saying, "Please tour your cell phone ON." That was an unusual opening! His idea was to have the session content go viral during the presentation. He had set a goal to get 100,000 tweets in an hour. I have no idea if he was successful, but you have to admit it was an unusual start to a breakout session.
I learned that having fancy graphics in the background of a slide is simply distracting. The new look is a perfectly white background. I had been using this technique all along, so that was not much of a change. He also advocated severely limiting the number of words on a slide. In the past I was guilty of putting too many words in each bullet. Jeffery advocated only one bullet per page with all lettering in large black letters with one or two words in bright red to emphasize the key point. This meant that his hour long presentation was over 300 slides, but he went so fast, we did not notice the volume.
One trick he advocated that helped me was to eliminate all use of clip art. Typically I would use a clip art cartoon to emphasize my point on each slide. His contention is that clip art is old and tired. It has little impact these days. Jeffrey advocated the use of photographic images to highlight any particular point. I took that advice.
I got a subscription to istockphoto, which allows the presenter to download photos from a searchable catalog of millions of images. You purchase a license to show the photo up to 500,000 times for a very low fee. Now my PowerPoint presentations have a lot more character and interest to audiences. The flexibility of using real people rather than clip art makes my presentations alive with action, and I have received several compliments on the quality of my work since making the change.