PowerPoint Presentations – a wishlist for 2009

I was recently asked by a fellow public speaking blogger, Olivia Mitchell from Speaking about Presenting what I would like to see in PowerPoint presentations this year. The answer to me is quite simple – LESS.

  • Less Slides
  • Less Text
  • Less Complexity

Less Slides

The trend in 2008 has largely been to replace lines and lines of bullet points with pictures illustrating the points. This is great because pictures have a powerful ability to illustrate points that text never will have. Hence the large and vivid pictures commonly used on newspaper front pages.

However, pictures are only part of the solution to giving an effective presentation. I still feel that most presentation need to be simplified and to have fewer slides. Remember that if a slide does not add to your message, it probably detracts from it.

Less Complexity

If you push the capabilities of PowerPoint (esp version 2007), you can create some amazing effects and transitions. Here is a great example. However, the more effects and transitions you add to your presentations, the more complex they become, and greater the chance of you messing it up. So, unless you really know what you are doing, or you have some great designers and PowerPoint experts working with you, you might want to cut back on the complexity.

I have also seen very few transitions, effects and animations that add to a presentation.

Less Text

We still need to see less text. Far to many presentations are text heavy. Laura Bergells makes a great point about going picture crazy and replaceing every single line of text with graphics. We do need to find a balance, but I would still rather see a presentation with too many graphics than with too much text.

So, lets cut back on the slides,simplifiy the slides that we keep, and use less text. Here’s to some great PowerPoint presentations in 2009!

5 thoughts on “PowerPoint Presentations – a wishlist for 2009”

  1. Hi – like you, I’m about to post my entry into this debate; sadly though, from reading what everyone else has said so far, I think we may very well have hit a consensus straight away! 🙂

    Mind you, I’d go one step further than your three ideas about presentations and have one numbered zero, so that it comes before your three: Less Presentations. I can’t begin to remember how many pointless presentations I’ve sat through just because someone had to fill time at a meeting, or because it was expected of them! (Or even just that they THOUGHT it was expected of them!


  2. Simon-

    Yes you are correct, as speakers we need to ask why we are speaking in the first place. If there is not a strong reason, then you are wasting a lot of people’s time.

    Rather give people the time to network (at a conference), or let them get back to work (in business).

    I look forward to your post.


  3. “As speakers we need to ask why we are speaking in the first place…” Kudos Craig for this thought. If we all would only ask ourselves that as we design our Power Point, we would find that happy medium of data and picture. I’m remembering the many many years of public speaking prior to computer visuals and I am somewhat ashamed that we as speakers have given in so quickly and easily to computer generated visual support. Truly, Aristotle taught persuasion to the Greeks using only the power of the written and spoken word. And ultimately that is our premiere power.

  4. Thanks Cyndi.

    I think that PowerPoint is a little like mobile phones and email. Life was perfectly fine before we got them, and not we wander what we do without! I would so like for us to get back to the spoken word, and away from the presented word.

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