Presentations. In addition to delivering findings via charts, graphs, and pictures, the presentation itself is a visualization. Data visualization = taking a lot of info (data) and turning it into something palatable. It isn’t enough to have results or recommendations that people should want to listen to. That alone isn’t going to make your audience pay attention — maybe just keep them awake.
Admit it: you’ve been subjected to a presentation where the PowerPoint (or whatever visual aide used) depreciated the value of what you were supposed to be learning about. Instead of focusing on the person talking, all you could think about was the giant chunk of text, which was nearly illegible from your uncomfortable, squeaky seat (you knew it was squeaky because you had to keep moving around to stay awake).
Although I’m sure we have all delivered one of those presentations, that doesn’t lend much comfort. So instead of letting you accept the status quo, I’m going to share some of the tips that have changed my presentations for the better!
First, let’s look at what I was guilty of doing in my presentations…and still see a lot of.
My tips + sound dataviz + a knowledgable, energetic, and fun presenter = a presentation people might listen to!
- Instead of using stupid headers…use that space to introduce your topic. Similar to useless titles on charts and graphs, we have a tendency to state obvious crap (or assume something is obvious). I like throwing in some rhetorical questions for emphasis.
- Defaults. Stop using them. Similar to my post on creating better charts, staying away from the crappy canned themes, fonts, and colors in PowerPoint (or whatever software you use) is best.
- Use pictures…but only if they mean something. All too often a picture is forced. Connect your content to a meaningful image to capitalize on the picture superiority effect.
- Use your PowerPoint as a PROMPT — not a script.
- More slides > a book per slide.
- Stop using bullet points because PowerPoint tells you to. First, ask yourself if bullet points make sense. If not, you’re wasting space.
- Black on white text = easiest to read. I know, I know…PowerPoint has been misleading you for years. But now you know better.
If you try out these tips, you might end up with less slides and more conversation pieces — like the one below.
What tips do you have for presenters? Feel free to share them!