A better way to think about PowerPoint
I’m not a huge fan of PowerPoint. If I’m giving a presentation, maybe a few pictures. But clicking through every 30 seconds doesn’t help me and it hinders some of my flow (maybe I need to just practice more).
And with meetings, I’d rather have a few handouts than a big stapled stack of papers that likely won’t get looked at and often don’t have the level of detail to stand alone after I leave. I know my subject well and prefer a more authentic conversation regardless if I’m sitting with one person or standing in front of many.
However, at times they are necessary and useful. And I think the Heath brothers (authors of Made to Stick and Switch — must reads) suggest the best way to format them:
Before your audience will value the information you’re giving, they’ve got to want it.
Most presenters take that desire for granted. Great presentations are mysteries, not encyclopedia entries. An online video called “The Girl Effect” starts by recounting a list of global problems: AIDS. Hunger. Poverty. War. Then it asks, “What if there was an unexpected solution to this mess? Would you even know it if you saw it? The solution isn’t the Internet. It’s not science. It’s not government.” Curious? See, it works. (Go to girleffect.org for the answer.)
Curiosity must come before content. Imagine if the TV show Lost had begun with an announcement: “They’re all dead people, and the island is Purgatory. Over the next four seasons, we’ll unpack how they got there. At the end, we’ll take questions.” We’ve all had the experience of being in the audience as a presenter clicks to a slide with eight bullet points. As he starts discussing the first one, we read all eight. Now we’re bored. He’s lost us. But what if there had been eight questions instead? We’d want to stay tuned for the answers.
They also reference Guy Kawasaki’s blog post explaining his 10/20/30 rule for PP — also worth the read.