This past week I was asked to come up with some ideas for a presentation some of my classmates and I will be making at the end of the term. It wasn’t until I sat down to start working on it that I realized I had not actually used PowerPoint in a serious way to present something I was in the first semester of grade 9 back in 2000.
I did a bit of looking into it and it turns out the first version of PowerPoint was brought out in the early 1990s. My first thought when I read that was “that’s incredible,” for two reasons, first because it speaks to the power of having additional visuals aid when making a point in a presentation. Second, it’s incredible because for just over two decades we’ve been using essentially the same piece of software when we give a lecture, pitch a product and try to hammer home an idea.
Here the the thing though after so many years of using PowerPoint presentations why are the overwhelming majority of them so boring? It’s not just me being picky either, when I looked into it there is an entire body of criticism that has developed under the catch all name “Death By PowerPoint” see below:
Most presenters use way too much text in their slides, using it as a crutch they often default to simply reading their notes directly from the slides, offering additional insights into the topic they’re speaking on.
Of the presenters that I’ve seen, the truly effective ones keep the words to an absolute minimum and use images to convey the message in way that’s much easier to quickly understand. So to keep the word count down concepts can be extended over the course of several slides. The presenter that just about wrote the book on keeping an audience engaged was Steve Jobs during his annual keynote presentations.
So the next time you’ve got a presentation your working on just remember that a picture is worth a thousand words!