This is a topic we have written on before, but it merits another emphatic mention.
PowerPoint and slide decks are completely overdone, to the point where the whole concept of the business meeting presentation is often (and accurately) lampooned. But many large organizations still rely on the internal presentation as a primary method of communication to create alignment. Many of us have to create slides for such meetings. And we all know what it feels to sit through a terrible meeting, with terrible slides. We all know what it feels like to have our time wasted in meetings or presentations that don’t get to the point, lack clarity, and overwhelm us with detail. But before you get too excited about criticizing a colleague for a terrible presentation, ask yourself this more humbling question. Do you think people feel that way when they listen to you?
Yep… that’s a much harder question to deal with.
So here is an approach that will help you put slides in the proper context and create simpler, cleaner decks. Your slides can only hurt you. They are nothing but risk. How do they create risk? In many ways:
1. Anything on a slide is fair game for a question. If you don’t want the question, think twice before you put it on the slide.
2. Any typo or mistake hurts your credibility.
3. If your slides look like they have been pulled from multiple sources, then it will look like you threw it together at the last minute. That hurts your credibility.
4. If your slides are too busy and complicated, your message will get lost.
5. If your slides are visually inconsistent (different fonts, font sizes, layout styles, etc.) then the slides will distract the audience.
I could go on. There are a number of ways your slides can get in the way of a good conversation with your audience. And if you adopt the proper mindset, and realize how many different ways your slides can hurt you, then you are more likely to create slides that are clear, clean and consistent.
We all like to manage risk. When it comes to your business communication, manage your risk by managing your slides.
Good luck, and have a great day.
Photo: Gareth Saunders used under the following license.