October 18, 2007

PowerPoint redesign



I was watching a video the other day, a video of a live presentation given by some well-known marketing gurus. The video was all about how to make a bazillion dollars by following the gurus' tips.

These guys are savvy Internet marketers, very successful, and yes, they make a bazillion dollars on their projects.

So why can't they afford a little common sense when it comes to PowerPoint?

The slides all use the same corporate-looking template as the background.

Each slide is dense with text. I don't mean a couple of bullet points; I mean six or seven bullet points, each with three or four lines of text per sentence.

On one slide there's a bulleted list so long that the text is probably 12 point. Pretty much unreadable.

There are egregious typos, including one where the offending word is actually written in all caps for emphasis.

At one point in the presentation, the speaker expresses shock at how ineffective and poorly designed some marketing web pages are. How ironic.

How would I fix it?

1. Remove the long lists from the presentation all together and give as handouts.

2. Or, even better, remove the lists from the presentation and involve the audience in creating their own lists and contributing their own expertise to the event. For the money these people paid to attend the seminar, they should get something other than straight lecture. Actually, even if they didn't pay a lot of money, they should get something other than straight lecture.

3. Determine the objective of each slide and use one sentence and a striking visual to make the point. The PowerPoint is not the presentation, the speaker is. The visuals are only meant to enhance the words coming from the speaker's mouth.

4. Better yet, introduce the speaker to Cliff Atkinson's story template as a model to redo the entire presentation and slideshow. If the guru thinks that all the data and text are critical, he can put it into a workbook for the audience to take home (oh wait, they already did that, except it's a notebook that contains the whole slideshow. Yikes!)

5. Have someone proofread the slides!

6. Offer my services to help improve their presentation for future audiences.

More isn't better. Too much is never better. Pare down, edit, condense. Clean up typos. Add visuals for impact. There you go.

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