Presentation Pitfalls #1 – Horrible slides

When was the last time you saw a really great deck of slides (Powerpoint etc)?

OK, let me ask an easier question: when was the last time you saw an awful deck of slides?

I saw one this morning.  One slide was so horrible I just had to tweet it:

  • 1 slide
  • 3 fonts
  • 3 font styles (plain, bold, italic)
  • 4 font colours
  • 5 font sizes
  • Plus some words ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS (doesn’t that just irritate the eye?)
  • And to cap it all, an animated GIF picture which wouldn’t stop moving for the whole ten minutes the guy was displaying this awful slide!

You might say that it was an effective slide since I can remember so many things about it, in the same way that terrible advertisements are more memorable than average ones.  Unfortunately, I cannot remember the content at all because my attention was completely taken by the hideousness of it all.

Worst of all, the fact that the presenter dared to use this slide, and probably produced it himself, meant that he went down significantly in my esteem.  If he can’t do something as simple as a Powerpoint slide properly, why should I pay any attention to him?  It’s not charitable and perhaps not fair because the presenter was probably an expert in his field, but that is the impression we all get.

There’s no point having a beautiful white smile if you have a piece of spinach stuck between your front teeth.  There’s no point turning up with a classy Boss suit if it is horribly creased after a few hours in your luggage.  It just doesn’t have the desired impression, and simple things like that can inalterably affect people’s perception of you.

Likewise, you can have the most polished speech with the most powerful and important message, and you can be the best presenter in the world, but if you put up an ugly slide on the wall behind you, that will be the spinach between your teeth, and that’s what people will remember (if anything) – not your message or your competence.  The third key of presenting is to be respected, so take care to ensure you don’t fail this test because of your slides.

Therefore my call to action is this: take great care with your slides, photos, videos etc, because they are key to people’s perception of you.

In this blog I will go over many tips for creating great-looking slides which will support your message effectively, so please come back regularly.

Please comment to tell me about any particularly horrible slides you’ve seen recently, and how they affected your perception of the presenter.


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