Advertising
Advertising

Six Major Mistakes When Doing Powerpoint Presentations

Six Major Mistakes When Doing Powerpoint Presentations

powerpoint slide presentations

    One of the editors here at Lifehack, Chris Smith, frequently writes about technology. As I was reading some of his recent articles, I was influenced to write a tech article of my own, so here it is.

    So, you are sitting in a company meeting and the presenter puts up the first slide. You are probably thinking to yourself,

    Advertising

    “Oh no, not another Powerpoint presentation – BORING!”

    Unfortunately, most people who use Powerpoint, Keynote or other similar software for making slide presentations completely abuse the technology. Instead of using these programs to enhance their presentations, they end up putting their audiences to sleep instead.

    I’ve been guilty of abusing this technology myself when I first started using Powerpoint as a product marketing manager. Originally, the intent was to replace the use of cumbersome overhead slides and when I realized just how easy it was to create new slides with a computer program, like everybody else, I just went crazy with it.

    Advertising

    I’m still using Powerpoint these days in my talks and seminars but fortunately after seeing many others make the same mistakes that I did with their presentations, I took it upon myself to get some training on how to best use this tool. To help you out with your own presentations, I have identified six major mistakes that most Powerpoint users make and how you can avoid them.

    1 – Text Too Small

    Quite often, the text used on slides is much too small to read once projected on a screen. A good test to use is go to the back of the room where the furthest audience member would be sitting before you do your presentation.  Put on the slide with the smallest sized text. If you can’t make out the text easily, then neither will any audience member sitting in the back of the room. You will have to make your text size larger (I would suggest at least 35-40 font size minimum). Also, it is a good idea to use sans-serif fonts like Arial (rather than serif fonts like Times Roman) on slides since they are easier on the eyes on a screen.

    2 – Too Much Text

    Another major mistake that many people make is trying to fit in too much text on any single slide. It is a nightmare for audiences when they see a slide jammed full of text. If audience members start reading all the text on such a slide, they will not be able to listen to you as the speaker at the same time. A good rule of thumb to use is have no more than four to five bullet points per slide (I often use just three points) and no more than five words per point. If you have more bullet points, divide them up on separate slides.

    Advertising

    3 – Reading Off Each Word

    A sure sign of an ineffective presenter is when he or she looks at the screen and reads off every last word up on the slides. From a presentation skills point of view, this is bad because the presenter loses eye contact with the audience. You also don’t want the audience to have to look at your backside all the time. Again, limit the number of words on each bullet point so that you can speak more naturally by expanding on what is actually on each slide.

    4 – Abusing The Bells And Whistles

    Another indicator of an inexperienced Powerpoint user is when too many of the fancy functions from the program are used in the presentation. This would include the use of too many different slide transitions, animations, sound effects, etc. You are not there to impress the audience with your vast knowledge of the different bells and whistles that Powerpoint has. These can get rather tiring on the audience. Keep things simple and remember that the slides are there to enhance your verbal presentation, not the other way around.

    5 – Ineffective Use Of Images

    It is true that a picture is worth a thousand words and images can definitely enhance your presentation. The key is to use them to illustrate major points you are making. Don’t have too many images on any single slide. I usually use just one image per slide. Make sure the image is good enough quality by testing it out on a wall or screen first. Sometimes images that look fine on your computer monitor may end up looking bad when blown up on a wall. Also, make sure any images you use are relevant to the points you are making during your presentation. Don’t just put up images for the sake of having pictures up there. There must be some obvious connection between the images you use and the points you are trying to make.

    Advertising

    6 – Not Having Backups

    Technology is technology. This means that it can fail when least expected. I’ve had to resort to using somebody else’s laptop when my own failed. It was a good thing that I had a backup copy of my Powerpoint file on a flash drive. From a speaker point of view, it is also a good idea to be able to deliver your presentation without the slides just in case of projector failure. I often bring some props to use in case I have to do a sudden version of my talk without slides and yes, I have had to do this in one or two cases.

    So there you have it. If you can avoid just these six major mistakes that many presenters make out there, the effectiveness of your presentations will be increased dramatically. After you have created them, rehearse your presentations in advance with the slides, as your efforts will make you appear to be a more professional presenter in front of audiences.

    More by this author

    How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt How To Have A Brighter Future personal growth travel How You Can Broaden Your Horizons with Travel 20 Inspirational Quotes of All Time that Can Change Your Life How to Salvage Any Blown New Year Resolutions

    Trending in Communication

    1 6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak 2 How to Train Your Brain to Be Optimistic 3 How to Stop Living on Autopilot with Antonio Neves 4 The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life 5 40 Acts of Kindness to Make the World a Better Place

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on August 6, 2020

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

    “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

    Are we speaking the same language?

    My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

    When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

    Am I being lazy?

    When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

    Advertising

    Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

    Early in the relationship:

    “Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

    When the relationship is established:

    “Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

    It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

    Have I actually got anything to say?

    When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

    A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

    When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

    Am I painting an accurate picture?

    One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

    Advertising

    How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

    Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

    What words am I using?

    It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

    Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

    Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

    Advertising

    Is the map really the territory?

    Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

    A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

    I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

    Read Next