January 2013 Bar Bulletin
Getting It Right with PowerPoint
By Rick Stroup
Preparing an effective PowerPoint presentation is a little like developing a killer chili recipe. It takes patience, planning and practice. Put in too many of even the choicest spices and a chili can taste muddy and confusing. Choose the wrong beef and it ends up greasy. Simmer it too long and you have wallpaper paste.
Likewise, put in too many of even the most eye-catching illustrations and a PowerPoint presentation will be distracting. Fail to sync the slide progression with the objects of your discussion and your audience may lose focus. Even consider putting in bullet points that jump, hop, wiggle or sing and your presentation is doomed.
Get it right and your killer chili is spicy and savory, and may require the addition of another sofa at your next party to accommodate overflow. Prepare your PowerPoint presentation correctly and your audience is far more likely to understand and appreciate your message.
So what is the best recipe for an effective PowerPoint presentation? Pundits and master-blasters may never agree on a complete list but most will agree with the following:
1) Do Your Homework. There is no substitute for careful planning and forethought. Clearly understand who your audience is and what you want to communicate before you create the first slide.
2) The Medium Is Not the Message. PowerPoint is an extremely useful tool but it cannot communicate for you. Use it to highlight and exemplify your talking points and help you tell your story.
3) Keep It Simple. Make your slides clean and readable, focus your illustrations on the point you're trying to make and keep your total slide count down.
4) Practice, Practice, Practice. Work through your presentation to make sure slide transitions make sense and that the pacing is appropriate to the message you are delivering, and understand how to start, pause and stop your presentation as needed.
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