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Antidotes For “PowerPoint Poisoning”
by Roberta Prescott

"PowerPoint Makes You Dumb" - The New York Times

Have you ever:

Watched a desperate presenter dealing with technical problems?

Heard a droning voice reading word for word from dense slides?

Gotten eyestrain from slides that you couldn’t see from the first row?

Been put into a PowerPoint coma?

Welcome to the club. In a recent Dilbert cartoon, after hearing the presenter say:

“ … and now for slide number 397 … ”
-- the listener collapsed, and Wally exclaimed --
“PowerPoint Poisoning!”

It is estimated that 30 million PowerPoint presentations are delivered every day. Corporate America is addicted to the use of PowerPoint. Yet in appropriate doses PowerPoint presentations can provide a healthy diet of visual stimulation that will help you make a clear, compelling presentation.

Check these antidotes to help reduce PowerPoint toxicity.

The Poison: PowerPoint Indigestion
The Antidotes

  • Edit ruthlessly. Limit lines to 5 and words per line to 5.
  • Have one slide per 2 minutes of presentation.
  • Use the "Sixty Minutes" technique of bolding out a key phrase.

The Poison: Myopia
The Antidotes

  • Use strong contrasts: black on white; white on black.
  • Use large fonts: 40-44 point for titles, 32-38 point for body text.

The Poison: Flying Objects
The Antidotes

  • Don't overdo the bells and whistles.
  • No words flying in from all directions.
  • No overuse of animation and sound effects.

The Poison: Technical Difficulties
The Antidotes:

  • Arrive early, check the equipment and give it a test drive.
  • Always have a back up.
  • Burn a CD of your presentation, have a floppy disk, bring hard copy.
  • Print out your speaker notes to use “just in case”.
  • Rehearse with your wireless remote so that you know where you can move, and where the dead spots are.

The Poison: Lost The Patient
The Antidotes

  • Reading word-for-word from your visuals = presentation death. Instead, have a conversation with the audience.
  • Make eye contact. They didn't come to see the back of your head.
  • Give your visuals and our eyes a rest. Use the “B” key to bring  the screen to black. (Useful during audience interaction). Hit “B” again, and you’re back in your presentation.

The Poison: No Prescription
The Antidotes

  • Transitions are road maps that keep the audience with you.  Instead of “on this next slide you can see …”, try “That’s the state  of the industry. Let’s look at what we’re doing to increase market share … “
  • What do you want? Have a strong concluding slide with action steps.

Use these antidotes and the prognosis is good for rapid improvement, so that PowerPoint becomes an efficient and effective addition to your outstanding presentation.

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