PowerPoint better than sex?

In a recent survey by online presentation company, SlideRocket1, 24% of respondents said they would rather forgo sex tonight than sit through a PowerPoint presentation. Those must be some pretty bad slides!

The survey consisted of 1,003 adults who use office software on a daily basis. Of those surveyed, 24% stated that boring slides had put them to sleep, and the biggest audience frustrations were “too much text” and “snoozer graphics.”

eSlide understands these opinions – every day we see overloaded slides or visuals that don’t help explain the presenter’s message. A slide deck is only one component of the presentation you deliver, and if it’s a snoozer it can cause audience attention to falter and if it’s overloaded it can steal attention away from your main points as people read ahead and ignore you.

We don’t mean to suggest that you stop using slides, as there is an abundance of scientific data to support the theory that visuals enhance information retention. One expert on this topic is John Medina, Director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University. In his book, Brain Rules, his Rule #10 states that “vision trumps all other senses.” His data argues that recognition doubles for a picture compared with text.

What we are recommending is that you revisit your presentation and try to see it from your audience’s point of view. Is it visually overwhelming? Does it read like a book? If so, copy your slide content to the notes section, then take keywords, or a few key points and put those back onto your slides. These will reinforce your message without distracting the audience. If you are using a graphic on your slide, is it helping to tell the story? If not, then you should consider replacing or removing it. If you feel it is necessary to maintain all of your content, there ways to graphically organize it into logical chunks, or use animation to bring content on screen to fit your story flow. (We won’t detail those techniques here, but you can find tips like this online in our S.E.E. Presentation Design series).

One third of the survey respondents dread creating PowerPoint presentations. But PowerPoint remains the best way to transform an “audio-only” speech into an impactful audio-visual experience, and improvements in recent versions make creating slides a smoother process. There are also many resources for training, as well as professional assistance for the more difficult aspects of presentation production. As the content expert you should do the best you can with your messaging and reach out for training or assistance with production aspects outside of your comfort zone (or simply aren’t an efficient use of your time).

Presentations are an excellent tool to inform, motivate, and for getting results. But the correct balance of Visual Value must be achieved for the most effective retention of your presentation. A well-balanced presentation can quickly deliver your message concisely and will leave a lasting impression.

1 http://www.sliderocket.com/blog/2011/06/death-by-powerpoint/ (as viewed on 6/21/11).

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