Has your team succumbed to PowerPoint groupthink?

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Question: "I seem to be alone in my office in thinking that PowerPoint deflates many presentations with visuals for concepts that don’t need them, slides that simply re-state what is being said, frustrating tech glitches, and a habit of drawing attention away from the presenter, who must struggle to maintain important eye contact. Does anyone else feel the same way? Is it really considered terribly 'old school' to dispense with PowerPoint for a big meeting?” – Carol, Personal Assistant

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda Citrin October 15, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Loved, loved these comments! I was trying tyo get my team to change their mindset on what needed to be in a PPT presentation to no avail. I was told the standards were set by one person in another dfepartment who over informed people on his slides. When I left there, I started researching PPT presentations and found a number of great sources. Besides Garr Reynolds and Rick Altman, I found a few books by Nancy Duarte that are helpful. The information here is just more fore me to use! Thasnk you all.

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g October 8, 2012 at 11:25 am

Our department uses them for orientations, manager meetings, etc. However I’ve notice since new staff have come they’ve gotten longer, almost like everything they want to say is in the powerpoint. I’ve helped retype them and wondered why they were so long. Once I had to fill in for someone and I was winded after reading it. I think info is good but if someone really wants to know everything they are going to take notes. I think big font and less words is definitely better. I remember one I attended (outside speaker). And they used alot of one word slides. I think I remember more from that then any sessions I’ve ever attended. I think I’m going to bring this to our department’s attention at some point to see if we can make some changes for the better.

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Lorrie October 15, 2012 at 10:27 am

You’re absolutely right. PowerPoint slides should not be verbose. There should be 3-5 key points to highlight the topics being covered.

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Sam Eskridge October 8, 2012 at 9:21 am

These were some excellent comments! “Death by PowerPoint” happens when presenters spend more time trying to design a presentation than they spend crafting their message content. The presentation SUPPORTS the message with relevant, memorable visuals that clarify the presenter’s points. More attention to the message will make it easier to cut down on the number of slides and make them more meaningful.

In addition to the Outstanding Presentations Workshops, and Garr Reynolds sites, I would also recommend Rick Altman’s site at http://www.betterpresenting.com/ . It also provides great material to help presenters to put together memorable presentations.

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JoAnn Paules October 5, 2012 at 7:19 am

There is a wonderful site called OutstandingPresentationsWorkshop.com. They are currently running a series of videos on avoiding death by PowerPoint. Each week a new speaker presents an hourlong (live and recorded) video. The 8 week long series was only $7. I promise you that you will get your money’s worth and then some. They are 3 weeks into the series but they will remain available for 2 months. Unfortunately they can’t tell you how to convince others not to bore their viewers to death but they can can you design a more effective presentation.

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Joyce October 4, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Greg is right. Powerpoint can be great if utilized properly, but too many want so much info on one slide that even if you print it out, the print is so small you need a magnifying glass. I like it for showing graphs and pie charts, maybe outline to keep focus, but if you’re going to put your entire presentation on it, why speak? Just give everyone the handout to read on their own. I get a lot of “yeah, but…” they just want it all.

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Barbie M October 4, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I couldn’t agree more! I have a meme posted at my desk that says every time a PowerPoint is made, Edward Tufte (google him) kills a kitten. I’m passive aggressive that way, but it does spark conversation!

When I prepare meetings, I try to keep death by PPT from happening by using tricks I learned here: http://www.garrreynolds.com/Presentation/index.html

Though PPT is a tough habit to break, everyone complains about it! There’s nothing wrong with thinking “old school” and going sans PPT to freshen things up a bit. I even do unorthodox things like start a meeting at 10:05 to keep my team on their toes.

One last remark about PPT: I loathe when someone emails a “pre-read” and it contains 56 slides and is pretty much their whole presentation. Kills me!

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Mary Thompson October 4, 2012 at 4:28 pm

I also agree with Greg. During large meetings we ask presenters to keep their slides down to 6 or less. The slides are their as a visual for talking point; what the presenter says is far more than what is up on the projector. I too dislike presentations where the person just reads from the slides; there seems to be no added value and in that case I’d rather have just a handout.

We also ask that presenters come prepared with a flash drive of their presentation in case there is a glitch. This seems to help.

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Sandy October 4, 2012 at 9:08 am

Well said, Greg. There is so much information out there on how to use PowerPoint correctly. I usually don’t do this, but here is a start: http://pptwiz.wordpress.com/

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Greg Lowe October 4, 2012 at 8:09 am

I think there are many traps with Powerpoint, but if managed well, can make points more memorable by providing visual reinforcement. One of my common issues that I see abused every day inside of large organizations is the need to have the presentation stand on its own. This leads to slides that contain everything but the kitchen sink.

When PowerPoint is used to support your talking points with pictures, graphics and charts, it can be a very powerful supporting player.

Have you considered creating a PowerPoint “Best Practices” deck that can be socialized inside the company (and copied)? The change will not be instant, but you’d be surprised on how many people will start to incorporate them into their decks.

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