It can be argued that if you look back on anything you created, no matter the discipline: painting, music, woodworking, presenting, etc… and are not completely embarrassed by your creation, then you haven’t grown in that discipline.
If you still see your creations in the same light and from the same perspective as when they were made, then you haven’t improved.
It’s difficult to be critical of one’s creations, but an honest critique that identifies the faults and failings is the only thing that will force you to better yourself, to improve one’s craft.
Think back to some of your earliest presentations. At the time you may have thought it was flawless and the best presentation ever was given. If you could have videoed the presentation, it’s likely that watching the presentation years later would arouse feelings of embarrassment and make you feel like hiding from society.
But that’s okay. You’re supposed to be bad at things when you’re new to them. Very few people have natural talent, and even those with talent take years of practice to make it look effortless. The learning never stops, even for the experts.
Causes of a “Bad” Presentation
Several factors can contribute to a bad presentation. Some common elements are:
- Presentation delivery
- Flow of the presentation
- Design of the slides
When it comes to presentation delivery, that topic is quite varied and unique from person to person. It could easily become a video Web-series unto itself.
Let’s focus on the other two: flow and design.
Think of a roadmap as a more interactive form of a table of contents.
Instead of displaying your table of contents like this…
…wouldn’t it be more engaging to present it like this?
It’s clear that with each step your audience is progressing and learning more. They’re moving “up the road” to a certain outcome or destination.
Roadmaps without Roads
The term “roadmap” is generic; it doesn’t mean that you must have a literal road on your slide. It’s more figurative.
The type of infographic you use to represent progression is dependent on the topic and your audience.
If you were to present to a group of students, you may wish to represent progression like the following.
The presentation will contain many slides detailing your content, but each time you transition to a new section, you revisit the introductory slide to show where in the progression you have traveled.
This way the audience knows several things:
- Where they currently are in the story
- Where they’ve come from
- Where’ they’re going
- And most importantly to some, where the end (goal) is located
Discussing Project Timelines
If you are presenting the timeline of a project, you can graphically represent the milestones of the project.
A nice touch would be to utilize PowerPoint’s Slide Zoom feature to “jump” to detail slides behind each milestone, then returning to the timeline to move on to the next milestone.
For more information about PowerPoint’s amazing Slide Zoom feature, click here.
Designing your slides in this way makes your presentations more interesting and easier to follow. But… every benefit comes at a cost.
Anyone who’s ever put together a visually interesting and dynamic presentation knows that it can take quite a bit of time to put together a polished presentation. And if you’re one who’s not very artistically inclined, this can be daunting.
Luckily for all of us, there is a solution. Simple Slides.*
The folks at Simple Slides create some of the most effective and visually interesting infographics and slides you will find on the Web.
Before Simple Slides, I created all my infographics from scratch.
Inserting shapes, adding connectors, merging shapes, controlling layers, adding animation… it took a LOT of time, patience, and creativity. Three things that are in short supply these days for most people.
The idea of a roadmap slide was not new to me, I had used them in earlier courses to showcase to the students wherein the learning process we had traveled.
As you can see, compared with roadmap slides from Simple Slides, my old roadmap slides left a lot to be desired.
The slide doesn’t seem like it took much effort to create, but this was easily a day’s worth of work. Much of this work was spent researching other presentation ideas, then through trial and error, cobbling together my version of a roadmap.
Formatting, aligning, animating… these things take time. For many of us, a LOT of time. We often spend more time creating the visuals than we do on the topic material.
Had I known at the time of Simple Slides, I would have browsed their library of existing slides, found one that was the closest fit to my own, then plugged in the data and changed the icons to fit my needs.
Bettering Our Presentations
If you have worked in a corporate environment, you’ve likely seen slides that look like this:
As a presenter, it’s easy to pack your speech onto your slide. This acts as a safety net in case you forget what you were going to say.
The problem (among many) is that many presenters end up reading the slides to their audience. This is what is often referred to as a “slideument”.
If you are going to read your presentation, you may as well just print your presentation, give it to the audience, and let them read it for themselves.
Also, while you’re reading one part of the slide, audience members are looking at other parts of your slide. Once they do this, they are no longer listening to you.
Reduce the slide to only display core words for each main point, then include icons or infographics to visually enhance the words.
Here’s an alternative to the “slideument” from before.
The slide contains the following elements:
- Main message or title at the top
- Infographic to visualize the required steps
- Stripped-down text to only show the essentials
This way it is immediately understood what the message is and the attention remains on you, the presenter.
PowerPoint Productivity Tip
Suppose you’re working on a new presentation and you discover that you can save development time by reusing slides from an existing presentation.
The old way of reusing slides involves:
- Browse to the old presentation
- Open the old presentation
- Scroll through the slides
- Find the applicable slide
- Copy the slide
- Switch to the current presentation
- Paste the slide
- Decide on old formatting or current formatting
The better way to reuse slides is by using the Reuse Slides feature located on the Home ribbon in the Slides group.
In the Reuse Slides panel that appears on the right, you are presented with recommended files based on past presentations.
If the desired presentation isn’t listed, you can either perform a keyword search for the slideshow or click Browse to manually select the presentation.
Once you have discovered your presentation, select Choose Slides to open the presentation in a thumbnail view.
Clicking on a thumbnail of a slide will insert the slide into your current presentation.
If you wish to retain the formatting (colors, fonts, layout, etc…) of the source presentation, make sure the Use Source Formatting feature is checked.
If you want the inserted slide to take on the formatting of the new presentation, clear the Use Source Formatting option before slide insertion.
If you forgot to set this option before slide insertion, you can change the behavior after the fact by selecting the Paste Options button to alternate between Source Formatting and Destination Formatting.
The Advantage to the Reuse Slides Feature
There are countless times when copying slides from an older presentation where I accidentally changed the slides in the OLD slide deck instead of the NEW slide deck and didn’t realize it until I had already saved the presentation, effectively corrupting my old slides.
The Reuse Slides feature prevents this from happening since it’s a read-only feature.
Using Simple Slides
By using Simple Slides, you have access to…
- Over 70 slide packs
- Over 10,000 slides
- More than 3,000 icons
The slides are neatly organized and cover over 40 different organizations/industries.
Because there are so many slide options, you can easily adjust the slides and the icons to fit your topic and audience.
If you purchase the Premium Package you will receive Lifetime Updates. This means you will receive any new slides, designs, and icons added to the library for free.
If you are unsure if this service is right for you, you can request a free sample to try before you make your final decision.
- Use roadmaps to give your audience orientation during the presentation
- Use as little text on the slides as possible
- Use supporting images and/or infographics in place of text
- Reuse slides safely by using the Reuse Slides feature in PowerPoint
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I'm a 6x Microsoft MVP with over 15 years of experience implementing and professionals on Management Information Systems of different sizes and nature.
My background is Masters in Economics, Economist, Consultant, Oracle HFM Accounting Systems Expert, SAP BW Project Manager. My passion is teaching, experimenting and sharing. I am also addicted to learning and enjoy taking online courses on a variety of topics.