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It’s horrible… but you can save it.

As a professional motivational speaker and comedian for over a quarter of a century I have strong opinions about the use of PowerPoint. And to point out the obvious…my perspective is as a presenter…not as an audience member.

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In my opinion is that 95% of you… No, make that 99% of you… abuse this powerful tool. And by abuse I mean absolutely, totally, and wildly fail.

But the good news is that I have two very specific techniques that you can use to make your PowerPoint presentations not only better but quite good.

The first technique is to use fewer words. And by fewer words I mean you need to eliminate 90 to 95% of the words on your current slides. Your audience, who ever they are, is there to see YOU. Not your slides. They are not interested in JUST the information. They want some information and YOU.

If they needed JUST the information you could hand them an article. Or they could read the book. But they are there to see you and to get a sense of how you think. If you are having them read your slides – or heaven forbid if you are reading your slides for them – you are absolutely screwing up. You’re delivering information only. They could have saved a headache and just read your info at home

Answer: Put one or two words on the slide. (Yes you heard me right. One word. Maybe 3 or 4. That’s it.)

This means that if you’re talking about your mission statement you are not going to include your entire mission statement on a slide. There will be no bullets. No paragraphs. Instead you’re going to put the word “Mission.” Then the audience will turn from the screen and look at YOU, listen to YOU, and learn from YOU. And all of that is very good.

One word on a slide is a powerful technique for you to let the Farm-bureau-201271audience know exactly where you are in the program. They have a placeholder in your presentation to help them understand. But by only having one word they are forced to look at you and to listen to you; and of course that’s the purpose. You are the presenter. You are the star. If you make PowerPoint is the star just mail you might as well mail them your presentation, and stay home drinking hot chocolate in the privacy of your own jamies. (Coincidentally, that’s what I’m doing right now. Just sayin’…)

By the way, if you have bullets on your slide you have too many words. (I know that half of you reading this article just fainted. You’re ok. Get up. Shake it off. You’re fine.) Instead of the bullets put your headline with ONE word and then you’ll give the details — the stuff that would have been in the bullets — using the spoken word. You’re a presenter right? You can talk. And you should.

Trust me: you’ll put the focus back on you.

The second concrete technique you can use to improve your PowerPoint presentations is by eliminating most of your slides. Just like the number of words per slide, the number of slides per presentation has to be drastically reduced. Don’t cut out one or two slides. I’m asking you to cut out 70 or 80% of your sites. In my hour and a half motivational presentation I have exactly 20 slides. 90 minutes; 20 slides. Why? Because I’m a professional speaker; not a professional PowerPoint demonstrator. My clients hire me for me and my take on their world; they hire me because I have a unique voice and some great information; not for having a ton of slides.

Because my slides are rare they are very powerful. The audience remembers them, comments upon them, and they each add value to my presentation. My slides are good partly because there are so few of them. It’s a little like chocolate: one or two pieces is heavenly. A truckload of chocolate just makes it cheap. Over kill. (Though who among us wouldn’t like to know for sure?)

If you have so many slides that you are audience is just looking at your slides and not at you than you have clearly missed the point. Clearly your slides are more important than you are, and for my money that’s a huge mistake.

Don’t forget that people want to see you. They want your personality, your uniqueness, and your ideas. They do not want to see endless bullets and long paragraphs on your slides; they want to see you.

The main thing to remember as a presenter is to be reminded that our audiences don’t want us just for our knowledge or our information. They want us! If they want just our information they can read our website, read the article, or they can just read the stupid PowerPoint slides that we can email them.

But audiences are too hip and sophisticated now for this type of junk. It’s time to step up, put on your Big Boy Pants, and trim the number of words and slides in your presentation. (Replacing them with you and your voice and your words. I know you’re scared. Don’t be shy, be strong! You can do it.)

PowerPoint is a terrific tool. It can illustrate points, help your audience to understand where they are in your presentation, and even communicate information that is very difficult to communicate with just words. But it is nearly always used poorly. Horribly. Tragically.

But not by you.  Right?  If you use it correctly… Which means don’t over use it… You’ll be well on your way to being a master presenter.

Brad Montgomery
Motivational Speaker, Powerpoint Presenter, Funny Speaker
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Read another article by Brad about his ideas for Powerpoint success here:

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Brad Montgomery is a funny motivational speaker who speaks about happiness at work and how happiness can be used as a tool to increase profitability. (Oh, and he’s laugh-out-loud funny.) To learn more about Brad please visit his website https://www.bradmontgomery.com Or you can visit his blog https://www.bradmontgomery.com/blog.

 

A new litmus test for your PowerPoint presentation.

I have very strong feelings about the use of PowerPoint. In my estimation 99.5% of all PowerPoint presentations absolutely blow.

IS&GS National Leadership MeetingI mean they are horrible. Tragic. Embarrassing. But goody for you, based on my 25 years experience as a professional presenter and motivational speaker, I have a couple of tips to ensure you are in that tiny percentage of presenters who can create an interesting, relevant, and fun PowerPoint.

The two things you need to know about PowerPoint are One: you have too many words; and Two: you have too many slides.

First, when I say too many words, I don’t mean just a couple of extra words. I mean you need to erase nearly every word you have. Most of my slides have a maximum of three words on them. A short phrase, a single word.  Often my slides have no words; only a picture.

Slides with minimal words can use a very large font which sets your presentation apart.  Who likes to try to read tiny type covering the entire page, especially if you forgot your reading glasses.  Come on, people!  A lot of us are getting more far-sighted everyday.

More importantly, slides with few words let your audience know where you are in your presentation. They are like punctuation.  A placeholder. The headline. You still have your bullet points in your details.  On your podium!  You are the one who delivers them. Not your computer. If your slides are so detailed that people could read them like an essay in lieu of listening to your presentation, then you’re completely missing the point of the slides. The audience is supposed to be LISTENING!  Not READING!

The same holds true for the number of slides you have in presentation. It’s like packing for a trip.  Prepare your slides, then decrease the amount by perhaps 80%. In my 90 minute motivational keynote I have fewer than 20 slides.

Remember, your audience is there to see YOU. Not your “presentation.” Yes they want you to have valuable content and ideas. But let’s face it— if they wanted JUST the information, they can either buy the book or read an article. Or — heaven forbid — borrow your PowerPoint presentation.

So here’s the bottom line:  erase almost all of your words and almost all of your slides.  Talk more and click that power point remote less.

Of course, with every awesome rule there is an exception. To see if any one slide can meet the exception I’ve come up with a litmus test.

I just did a motivational speech for a group of insurance executives in Georgia, and then a similar speech again for some business people in Denver. After both keynotes I had people come up afterwards and ask for a copy of a particular slide. In both cases it was multiple people asking for the same slide.

The slide is of my Manifesto, and has about 30 words on it. (So as you can see I didn’t just break my rule about very few words per slide; I shattered it.) The fact that people are begging for, not a copy of my entire PowerPoint presentation, but for a copy of that particular slide tells me that this slide is compelling, interesting, and provides value. So now I have a new test for any exception to my very-few-words-per-slide rule.

If I’m going to have lots of words on any particular PowerPoint slide, it needs to have lots of value. So much value that people specifically request a copy. In other words, if you have a Title slide with five Bullets…and nobody cares, comments or notices … That slide sucks.

PowerPoint is an excellent tool for presenters. It can add value and meaning to your speeches, and if you use it right it can even deliver punchlines. So don’t dismiss it. What you need to do is to rethink its content.  Totally.  Now.  Start deleting.  Your presentation will be better, your slides will be more interesting, and your audiences will be thrilled.

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If you are looking for a motivational speaker with a unique use of PowerPoint then I hope you’ll give me a call. Or even better, if you just need a business speaker who has a unique way of delivering his message, uses PowerPoint, sound effects, music, and a crazy amount of audience interaction, then I definitely hope you’ll call us.

(If you’re looking for more ways to improve your presentation skills, including some cool stuff about how to be funny, you can check out our store.)

What are your best PowerPoint Tips?  What do YOU think?  (Leave a comment!)

Yours,
Brad Montgomery
Motivational Speaker, PowerPoint expert, Very Funny Keynote Speeches
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Powerpoint has to be one of the most overused and abused tool ever invented.  Lousy, uncreative and lazy  presenters mistake good slides for a good speech or presentation.  My point?  Even though you have a “professional” Powerpoint presentation, you still are a mediocre (at best!) speaker.

Ok, maybe not you.  But everybody else reading this blog.

Remember this speaking tip:  every moment your audience is looking at your slides they are not looking at you.  That’s fine if you’re selling your slides.  But professional speakers need to sell themselves and their messages, so this PowerPoint-as-the-Center-Of-A-Program phenomenon is a disaster.

Here’s the moment you know your speaking career is going down the drain: somebody asks you for a copy of your slides.   If your slides can stand on their own without you to make sense out of them, you’ve designed your slides and your presentation wrong.

And here’s another hint:  if you feel the need to both project your slides and print them out as a handout, then you have truly hit a new low.  Printed Powerpoint presentations do not equal “valuable handout.”

Advice:  hire a pro.   (Hey, here’s a better idea:  hire me!*)

Contact me here.

Yours,

Brad Montgomery
Professional Keynote Speaker, Excellent User of LIMITED Powerpoint

*  I know, I know.  You saw that shameless self-promotion coming, right? Hey, what can I say.  The kids need new shoes.)

Check out this hilarious video about lousy Power Point.   This guy is right on.