8 Reasons Why Your Presentations Suck [Video]


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You’ve probably seen some poor quality presentations in your life, the kind that lull you to the sleep or drag you down to the very depths of boredom. There’s a good chance that you can’t tell why it was so bad, but you know it when you see it.

Rick Altman, a presentations consultant, calls this phenomenon “death by powerpoint.” As he explained today at DemandCon, most people spend too little understanding how presentations work and too much trying to make them cool. As a result, they just bore us.

There are 8 reasons I derived from Altman’s presentation – easily one of the best of DemandCon so far – of why presentations suck. Here’s the list and how to make them better.

You start by bragging.
Let me guess, your mission statement or a series of logos of companies you work with are at the very beginning of your deck.

Far too many presentations start of with this sort of braggadocio, said Altman, and it immediately starts the PowerPoint off on the run foot. Don’t bore your audience by trying to describe how great your company is. Prove it by launching into the points-of-view and knowledge they came there to see.

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You suffer from “snowflake syndrome.
Does every slide in your PowerPoint look completely different? Many people suffer from the compulsion to make each slide look unique, just like snowflakes, Altman pointed out. Most of the time, it’s an attempt at keeping the presentation from being boring.

“Corporate America doesn’t really need that,” said Altman. You’re better off spending that time actually crafting visuals and text that actually excites your audience.

You make your audience’s eyes bleed.
You know what I’m talking about. Dark text on a dark background or light text on a light background. These eye-straining techniques are surprisingly common, Altman noted.

It doesn’t matter how cool the imagery is, if you’re making your audience work to hard to read the messaging. Make text crisp and clear, and you’ll immediately improve your chances of reaching people.

You read every word on every slide.
We’re probably all guilty of this in some way. But it is awkward, isn’t it? If you read every line and sentence that appears within your deck, you’re audience probably thinks you’re an idiot, Altman said.

In this case the “presenter finds himself explaining the slide, rather than sharing ideas with the audience,” Altman said. Keep your text short and to the point, and let your mouth do most of the talking.

You are too text happy.
Some slides read like a novel. There’s a temptation to try to say everything in presentations. But like any form of storytelling, if you overload with text, your audience will immediately tune out.

Altman suggested trying to shorten all of your sentences to three words. This will force you to cut down the clutter and will also help you focus on the most vital aspects of your message.

You use chunky data.
For anyone who works in marketing, sales, finance, etc., charts are likely to pop up in your deck. Obviously, charts and graphs help explain often complex data. But if you just throw up a data-heavy chart, you’ll lose your audience.

Have you considered animation? As Altman said, many people dismiss animation only because they’ve seen cheesy versions of it. But if you display an empty graph and use animation to fill in the data points as you address them, you can guide your audience through the information rather than overwhelm them.

You are trying to create leave-behinds.
Most of the time when people are creating a slide, they are multi-tasking. The goal is usually to draft something you can present on a large screen and will also work as a printed material. This is a bad idea, Altman said.

Focus on the task at hand, which making a great, clean and concise presentation. In fact, if your goal is to create a solid presentation with striking visuals, then it will necessarily fail as a print out, Altman noted.

You lack confidence.
So simple but true. At the end of creating your PowerPoint, if you’ve expended the right amount of time and effort on it, you should feel good about it. Maintain your confidence in your ideas. Your audience is there because they are interested in the knowledge you posses. Remain confident and they’ll be eating out of your hand.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jesse Noyes
Jesse came to Eloqua from the newsroom trenches. As Managing Editor, it's his job to find the hot topics and compelling stories throughout the marketing world. He started his career at the Boston Herald and the Boston Business Journal before moving west of his native New England. When he's not sifting through data or conducting interviews, you can find him cycling around sunny Austin, TX.


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