Presentations are the business currency of today. PowerPoint is often the legal tender of those presentations. We trade and share PowerPoint presentations like baseball cards, stamps and money.
PowerPoint is nearly unavoidable. However, misuse of PowerPoint is avoidable!
Audiences Fed Up!
Author and consultant Dave Paradi has researched what audiences dislike about PowerPoint presentations since 2003. Results from his recent September 2011 survey highlight what many conference attendees already know.
“Audiences are fed up with presenters who fill their slides with too much content and are then compelled to read it all to those seated in the room.
…Too many presentations suffer from information overload.” ~ Dave Paradi
Top Five Reasons We Hate PowerPoint Abuse
Nearly 43% of those surveyed said that more than half of the presentations they see suffer from one or more of the following top five PowerPoint misuses.
1. Speaker reads slides that contain too much content – 73.8%
The audience feels that the presenter is reading a detailed report to them. Instead, the audience wants to hear key insights or conclusions.
2. Slides contain full sentences instead of phrases – 51.6%
Attendees cannot read and listen at the same time. Putting too much information on a slide distracts the attendee.
3. Text on slide too small to read – 48.1%
Presenters often decrease font size to include more data on slides. Instead the presenter should summarize the critical points. Presenters should use at least 40 font size.
4. Color choices on slide make it difficult to read – 34%
Too many presenters put lots of white or bright text on dark backgrounds. This is difficult to read. Use a color wheel or the PowerPoint font color suggestions to choose the right colors that match.
5. Overly complex diagrams or charts – 26%
Use the squint test. If you can’t see the results when you squint your eyes, there is no way the audience will be able to see it either. Instead, put diagrams and charts in handouts. Put the results on the slide.
Three Themes From Comments
Paradi received more than ten pages of comments from the open ended question, “What else annoys you about poor presentations?” Three themes emerged from those comments.
1. Presenters attempt to cram too much information into their presentations.
Audiences feel like presenters are reading reports to them. Presenters feel they need to include everything because they share these presentations with people who did not attend. So they write their script on the slides. Tip: include script on the PPT notes section and distribute with the slides via email.
2. Speakers not prepared to present.
Frequently, the presenter did not prepare the slides or rehearse so they were unaware of what each slide said. Audiences loose respect for presenters that are not prepared. Audiences also do not like presenters that do not have good delivery skills or don’t know how to use basic AV equipment.
3. Audiences do not like poorly designed slides.
Audiences have little respect for presenters that lack design skills or don’t use resources to help them create better looking slides. Tip: Don’t use the PowerPoint templates and layouts. They are overused!
What PowerPoint abuses do you dislike during presentations? What else annoys you about poor presentations?