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Getting to the Point – The Art of Show and Tell

How much time went into the layout, design and creation of your last power point presentation? I would wager several hours if you built it from scratch to several minutes if you simply edited a pre-existing slideshow.  And was that time spent on the logic of the material delivery or more on the actual ‘look’ of each slide?

Did any of your slides look like the one below?  This slide was presented to US generals to try to explain the situation in Afghanistan. General Stanley McChrystal, the US and NATO force commander remarked when confronted by this presentation “When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war,”.

afghanistan power point graphic

This may seem comical but would you believe it is a very common practice in most power point presentations today?  I was privileged to sit through yet another serious of keynote speakers, each of whom had similar slide presentations jam-packed with incomprehensible, barely legible and irelavent material.  It really makes me wonder what was going on in their heads when they constructed their power point presentations.

So – what is going on in your head when you construct yours?  Here’s a clue – you should be thinking about;

  1. What’s the point of my presentation?
  2. What do I really want them to know?
  3. What do I really want them to remember?

What more is there?  Think about it – when an audience sits down to listen to you and see what you’ve put together for them they are immediately searching for ‘what’s in it for me’.  If, after the first couple of slides they haven’t gleaned anything beneficial from what you’ve shown them…you are now beginning to bore them.  They do not need to see endless slides, compressed data, irelevant material or complicated schematics.  They need and want to see only the ‘important stuff’ and in its simplest form.  For example;

Traffic sign - Mandatory straight through or turn right         Traffic sign - Trucks carrying dangerous substances prohibited         Traffic sign - Steep grade         Traffic sign - School bus stop ahead

So keep it simple!  Use pictograms, very few words and FOCUS on the exact message you want to convey – nothing more, nothing less.  Let’s face it, audiences are a tough crowd.  You need to capture and keep their attention from beginning to end.

Do that and you will have them seeking you and your product or service out after the show.  Don’t do that and you will never hear from them again.  So do yourself and your audience a favor and get to the point.

By Heidi Crux