Microsoft's presentation software is as reviled as it is ubiquitous. From the author of Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck, here are five surefire strategies for bombing in the boardroom.
Modern innovations provide more ways to go wrong than ever. Digital projectors can show holograms, display slides in 3D, and spew gigabytes of sucky animated clip art. Why not use it all? Bonus: Jump on the recent trend of embedding live Twitter feeds inside your PowerPoint talk. That way, someone in the audience won’t be able to resist tweeting about what a real twit you are.
Count Your Slides Off
I recently witnessed a fine goat rodeo from a B-level Silicon Valley executive who spent the first 10 minutes going over his agenda slide, fell down an extended rabbit hole on a bullet point or two, then launched into the main event: “Across the next 15 slides, I hope to show you ...” We were all on the edge of our seats to see how the rest of the slides would compare with the first.
Unleash a Fusillade of Bullet Points
Start creating a presentation in front of the standard four-bullet-point template, and simply fill in the blanks. Ignore the pundits who tell you that bullet points make us stupid or counsel you to start by writing a good, cogent talk on a blank word processor page. The back of a phone bill, or a soggy cocktail napkin, anything—never ever miss an opportunity to slice and dice your ideas into unintelligible chunks.
PowerPoint can be the force behind some truly breathtaking scenes—text flying aimlessly across the screen, giant yellow tennis balls on a lime-green background, words emphasized in bold-italic-underline. Awesome corporate strategy: Spend millions on conventional branding, but send someone to a sales call with scant presentation training.
Hold the Audience Hostage
Presenters earn resentment by ignoring the room’s mood and energy level. It’s 3:30 in the afternoon, and you can tell their eyes are glazing over. But you’re scheduled for another half-hour, so you should definitely hold them to it. Act as if they’re in preschool waiting to get picked up by their parents. By dismissing them early, you would be depriving them of your last slides and those killer text fade-ins on POLICY UPDATES AND TOPICS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSION.