YouTube videos satirize them. Bestsellers criticize them. And we all dread them. I’m talking about those dense, badly organized, put-you-to-sleep PowerPoint presentations.
Why do people keep plodding down the typical tedious PowerPoint path? Here are a few possible reasons:
- That’s the way I’ve always done it!
- They’re only giving 15 minutes and I’ve got a lot to say.
- That’s the way my boss does it!
- People will need all this information when they get back to their offices.
(Be honest, how often do you go back to a PowerPoint for reference? Others probably don’t either.)
The C-level executives I coach are often surprised to know there’s a better way to get their message across — by using what I call the “glance & grab” approach. Here’s how to make it work for your next PowerPoint.
Pro Tip #1: Imagine yourself driving down the road . . . you check your rear view mirror. How long do you look? A second? Less? In an instant, you’re probably doing several things, from seeing if you’re being tailgated to making sure you won’t get a speeding ticket.
The truth is, those brief moments can involve important, even critical decisions. Now apply that same thinking to your PowerPoint. Imagine you only have seconds to help your audience make a critical decision. What information will they need? What’s the best way to communicate it? Should you use words? Pictures? A combination of the two? Whatever you choose, make sure your listeners can easily glance at your media and grab what they need, so their attention returns to you as the speaker.
Pro Tip #2: Think more graphically. It’s well known in advertising that people don’t read ads, they scan them. The same holds true for PowerPoint. Why write a treatise on each slide when you want your audience to simply “glance and grab™” key information?
From flip charts to videos, remember that media serves just one purpose — to make things easier for your audience. Your job? Give them the information they need in a way that’s easy to grasp, easy to use and easy to remember.
Pro Tip #3: Author Steve Krug’s book, Don’t Make Me Think, counsels against forcing your audience to invest too much brainpower into understanding your message. If we make people think too much, they may not have enough energy left to take action.
Simply put, if your audience has to puzzle out your main message, you’ve lost them. Instead, make sure that your presentation has a crystal clear overall theme or idea. Then make sure each slide also has a distinct central thought. Don’t forget to use visuals — again, think “glance and grab™” and you’ll have them on the edge of their seats.
We all glance and grab™ critical information every day. And every one of us uses that information to make crucial decisions — fast. Why not help your audience do the same thing? Organize your presentation around a central message…make each slide count…make each word count…better yet, use visuals…make it fun! If you do, your presentations will be more engaging, more valuable, and much more memorable for both you and your audience.