Results of the 2015 Annoying PowerPoint Survey

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What annoys audiences about PowerPoint presentations? Every two years I ask them. This SlideShare summarizes the results from the 2015 survey.

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Results of the 2015 Annoying PowerPoint Survey

  1. 1. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. Results of the 2015 Annoying PowerPoint Survey By Dave Paradi of
  2. 2. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. Dave Paradi Author of eight books, four Kindle ebooks. One of thirteen people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the PowerPoint Most Valuable Professional Award. What annoys audiences about PowerPoint presentations? Every two years I survey audience members through an online survey. I want to know what they think of the presentations they see.
  3. 3. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. The 2015 survey was my seventh survey. A total of 453 people responded. In the following slides I share the key findings from the responses. The biggest message from audiences was that they feel presenters don’t care enough about the audience to spend the time required to create and deliver an effective presentation. That sounds harsh, but the hundreds of comments I reviewed make it clear that presenters need to do better.
  4. 4. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. Presentations are becoming the default method for communicating in many organizations. This is a graph of the % of people who told me they see at least one presentation per day every day of the work week. 13.4% 14.2% 19.7% 22.6% 27.4% 2007 2009 2011 2013 2015 More than doubled in the last eight years
  5. 5. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. What does this mean for presenters? Audiences see so many presentations, both live and recorded on the web. They know what an effective presentation can look like. They have higher expectations today. What presenters could get away with a few years ago won’t cut it today. If you don’t improve your presentations, you will fall further behind.
  6. 6. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. I ask respondents to tell me the top three things that annoy them about PowerPoint presentations from this list of twelve.
  7. 7. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. Here are the top four responses, with what % of the respondents selected that statement. The speaker read the slides to us 71.7% Text too small to read 48.6%Full sentences for text 47.7% Visuals too complex 36.9%
  8. 8. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. Here are the top four responses, with what % of the respondents selected that statement. The speaker read the slides to us 71.7% Text too small to read 48.6%Full sentences for text 47.7% Visuals too complex 36.9% Reading the slides has always been the #1 response. And when you fill the slide with small text, no wonder presenters end up reading their slides.
  9. 9. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. Here are the top four responses, with what % of the respondents selected that statement. The speaker read the slides to us 71.7% Text too small to read 48.6%Full sentences for text 47.7% Visuals too complex 36.9% Complicated visuals that are hard to understand emerged as a strong issue in this survey. Presenters should use visuals, but must make them clear.
  10. 10. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. I asked respondents to tell me three words or phrases they hear when others talk about PowerPoint presentations. They were not shy in sharing.
  11. 11. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. I took all the responses, and created a word cloud that shows the size of the words based on their frequency in the list. Clearly “boring” is the most common word used to describe PowerPoint presentations. ©2015 Dave Paradi
  12. 12. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. I think “boring” is the result of an overwhelm of text and data on slides. Here’s how I see presentations end up being described as “boring”. Overwhelming amount of text or data on slides.
  13. 13. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. I think “boring” is the result of an overwhelm of text and data on slides. Here’s how I see presentations end up being described as “boring”. Overwhelming amount of text or data on slides. Audience is confused
  14. 14. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. I think “boring” is the result of an overwhelm of text and data on slides. Here’s how I see presentations end up being described as “boring”. Overwhelming amount of text or data on slides. Audience is confused I better remember to pick up milk Audience mentally “checks out”
  15. 15. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. I think “boring” is the result of an overwhelm of text and data on slides. Here’s how I see presentations end up being described as “boring”. Overwhelming amount of text or data on slides. Audience is confused I better remember to pick up milk Audience mentally “checks out” That presentation was boring After the presentation, the audience says it was boring
  16. 16. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. I asked what else annoys them about PowerPoint presentations. Their comments filled almost 21 pages.
  17. 17. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. After reviewing all of the comments, three themes emerged. All three themes relate to presenters not respecting their audiences enough to take the time to properly prepare the presentation. That sounds harsh, but it is the truth that audiences want presenters to hear.
  18. 18. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. Theme 1: Presenters need to invest in upgrading their PowerPoint skills It’s not that presenters don’t know the basics, they do. It is that too many presenters think it takes too much time to create visuals, so they take the quick and easy way out by filling the slide with text or copying a spreadsheet onto the slide. Anyone can learn the skills and shortcuts to quickly and easily create effective visuals like graphs, diagrams, and organized text. Audiences will thank you for doing this.
  19. 19. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. Theme 2: Presenters need to take the time to prepare a clear message Don’t start your presentation preparation by pulling slides from previous files. When you do this, you expect the audience to figure out how they go together. They won’t. Use a GPS strategy. Determine where you want the audience to be at the end of the presentation. Figure out where they are now. Then plan the best route to get them from where they are to where you want them to be.
  20. 20. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. Don’t pour everything you know into the presentation Focus your content on just what the audience needs to know
  21. 21. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. Don’t pour everything you know into the presentation Focus your content on just what the audience needs to know If you dump everything into the presentation because it also needs to be a stand-alone document, please stop doing that. Instead, use hidden slides to hold the additional detail in the same file. People can see it if they need to and the message doesn’t get drowned out.
  22. 22. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. Theme 3: Presenters need to take the time to be prepared to deliver the presentation When a presenter apologizes for content on their slide, the audience feels that the presenter couldn’t be bothered checking for issues such as: • spelling errors • colors that are hard to see • fonts that are too small or hard to read • low quality fuzzy images • mis-aligned objects Don’t apologize, check your slides beforehand.
  23. 23. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. Rehearsing – standing and delivering your presentation out loud – is the only way to know how long it is. Rehearse so you don’t rush through your presentation or go over time. Rehearsing also makes you comfortable with the content and the flow of the material. You can deliver the presentation facing the audience, not the screen.
  24. 24. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. For the first time, I asked audience members what advice they would give presenters. They didn’t hold back. The responses filled over 23 pages. And there was some strong language used.
  25. 25. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. One overarching theme emerged after reading all of the advice: Clarity. Audiences want clarity in three areas: message, slides, and delivery. The advice echoed what they had already said. Message Have a clear goal for the presentation Tailor the presentation to this audience Include only the key points, not everything you know
  26. 26. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. One overarching theme emerged after reading all of the advice: Clarity. Audiences want clarity in three areas: message, slides, and delivery. The advice echoed what they had already said. Message Have a clear goal for the presentation Tailor the presentation to this audience Include only the key points, not everything you know Slides Make one point per slide Write a headline for each slide that summarizes the message Use visuals instead of text and spreadsheets Don’t overload the slides with information
  27. 27. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. One overarching theme emerged after reading all of the advice: Clarity. Audiences want clarity in three areas: message, slides, and delivery. The advice echoed what they had already said. Message Have a clear goal for the presentation Tailor the presentation to this audience Include only the key points, not everything you know Slides Make one point per slide Write a headline for each slide that summarizes the message Use visuals instead of text and spreadsheets Don’t overload the slides with information Delivery Rehearse so you are comfortable with the content and sequence Don’t apologize; fix the issues before Don’t read the slides from the screen; if you have a document, email it
  28. 28. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. As a presenter, what should you do as a result of what audiences told me in this survey? Here’s what I suggest: • Upgrade your PowerPoint skills (free tutorials here and here; advanced tutorials here) • Create a clear message before any slides (free articles: goal, GPS, TED lessons; my book Present It So They Get It) • Create clear visual slides (free articles: message vs supporting information, make text visual; my book Select Effective Visuals; e-course to convert bullet points to text visuals) • Prepare to present (free articles: slide tests, stop looking at the screen 1 & 2)
  29. 29. All content ©2015 by Dave Paradi. All rights reserved. Do not copy or extract without permission. You can read the full report on the survey results on my website here and download the report in PDF format. If you want me to train your staff on how to create PowerPoint presentations that have a clear message, focused content, and effective visuals, check out my customized workshops.

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