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In this presentation I am going to show you 5 issues that I have seen with PowerPoint
slides and how you can fix them
1
It is a universal truth that almost any presentation has too many slides, with too
much on them.
It’s not a projected essay!
So why is this a problem? Well apart from not being able to see all the words on the
screen, there’s a limited number of things we can remember at once.
2
In the 1950’s George Miller proposed the idea that our working memory can process
7 plus or minus two “chunks” of information at a time - where a chunk can be for
example a digit, a word, a face, a chess piece location…
If you present your information in smaller CHUNKS it can be more easily
remembered.
3
For a presentation the simplest way to do this is to present one idea per slide and not
overload with too many slides!
If in doubt, throw it out.
OK – Not so much text, got it – I know the way around this problem….
4
BULLET POINTS! Amirite? Power Point almost MAKES you do it!
But….
5
6
•
7
•
•
8
•
•
•
9
•
•
•
•
It’s so tempting to do this when you have a list of bullet points!
10
(pause)
At multiple conferences I have even seen people use the laser pointer to follow along
with the words as they read….
Please! No! This will send your audience off to sleep.
OK so don’t read what’s on the screen, got it, I will say something else instead! -
But….
11
If you have a screen full of either text or bullet points and you are talking at the same
time – whether they want to or not, your audience has to make a choice.
Will they read your slides, or listen to you speak? It’s impossible for most humans to
pay attention to both at the same time.
If there is something you really want them to read, you have to STOP talking and give
them time to read it.
And, if you want them to listen to what you are saying, don’t give them a whole
bunch of stuff to read!
12
Best option is to use images as much as you can, with a “headline” summary of the
point you want to get across from this slide.
Use the Notes feature to write longer text, Presenter View to have them available
during the presentation, and include them in the handouts (if someone asks you for
your slides)
OK great, got it – IMAGES!!! But….
13
Um, not like this.
Unless the point here is that “Agile is complicated and much like a transportation
network” I don’t think this is a good candidate for a slide.
I could do a whole talk on problematic infographics and misleading graphs – but
we’ve probably seen enough of those during these COVID times that you already can
think of a few.
14
Here’s an example from an online conference I was at just a few days ago. WHAT IS
THAT DIAGRAM?
15
by Khalay Chio from the Noun Project
A diagram, graph or infographic needs to be simple, readable and support whatever
point you’re making.
Even a photo needs to be relevant or it will just be distracting
16
See what I mean? LOOK A QUOKKA oh wait what’s she talking about??
17
Now here’s one that I struggle with a bit as you may have noticed – I am NOT a
designer
Slides shouldn’t hurt your eyes. Unless like Cat Swetel, you make ugly slides like this
one on purpose so that they will be memorable.
(It worked, this is from 2018 and I remembered that I had a photo of this ugly slide).
18
Here’s some ideas – don’t have to be stuck in PowerPoint or Slides, you can use a tool
like Canva (which I used for this – don’t blame Canva if you hate my slides though)
Have a crack at hand drawing your slides – I am sure Rebecca’s talk earlier today gave
y’all some ideas. This pic is Katrina Clokie presenting a few years ago, this was the
first time I had seen hand drawn slides!
Or, seek help – one of my consultant friends uses a designer (“two red dogs”) for all
of his slides – maybe you’ve got a friend who’ll work for coffee or something?
So you have decided on a tool, you’re ready to get right in and do the slides…
19
Don’t just start cracking away in the tool. Begin with the STORY not with the SLIDES.
No matter what you’re presenting on, there’s always a STORY. This is how
presentations are made to be engaging.
You need to set out your ideas in a way that the audience will find them memorable.
20
Think of your presentation design as a movie storyboard which has both plot lines
and pictures.
Make sure the audience has a “what’s in it for me” – So an outline of this
presentation might look like:
You’re at the beginning of your speaking journey
You want to be a speaker that people enjoy listening to
Your challenge is to keep the audience engaged during your talks
How can this be achieved?
21
Glad you asked! Here’s the TL;DR summary that I am really tempted to read out
because it looks like a list!!
If we were at an in-person conference this would be the slide I hope people would
take a photo of as their main takeaway, which is why it is here in this format despite
all my other advice.
AND my last thought is….
22
There is no law that says you have to have a slide deck! Check out these awesome
speakers.
Jeff Patton, draws while he’s talking and has a special projector setup to show you
what he’s drawing
Angie Jones is live coding in one of her talks
Lynne Cazaly doing an online talk where she draws and uses props instead of slides,
have to say if you can do this well it’s much more engaging online.
That’s all I have - GO FORTH AND BE AWESOME!
23

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Death by Powerpoint

  • 1. In this presentation I am going to show you 5 issues that I have seen with PowerPoint slides and how you can fix them 1
  • 2. It is a universal truth that almost any presentation has too many slides, with too much on them. It’s not a projected essay! So why is this a problem? Well apart from not being able to see all the words on the screen, there’s a limited number of things we can remember at once. 2
  • 3. In the 1950’s George Miller proposed the idea that our working memory can process 7 plus or minus two “chunks” of information at a time - where a chunk can be for example a digit, a word, a face, a chess piece location… If you present your information in smaller CHUNKS it can be more easily remembered. 3
  • 4. For a presentation the simplest way to do this is to present one idea per slide and not overload with too many slides! If in doubt, throw it out. OK – Not so much text, got it – I know the way around this problem…. 4
  • 5. BULLET POINTS! Amirite? Power Point almost MAKES you do it! But…. 5
  • 6. 6
  • 10. • • • • It’s so tempting to do this when you have a list of bullet points! 10
  • 11. (pause) At multiple conferences I have even seen people use the laser pointer to follow along with the words as they read…. Please! No! This will send your audience off to sleep. OK so don’t read what’s on the screen, got it, I will say something else instead! - But…. 11
  • 12. If you have a screen full of either text or bullet points and you are talking at the same time – whether they want to or not, your audience has to make a choice. Will they read your slides, or listen to you speak? It’s impossible for most humans to pay attention to both at the same time. If there is something you really want them to read, you have to STOP talking and give them time to read it. And, if you want them to listen to what you are saying, don’t give them a whole bunch of stuff to read! 12
  • 13. Best option is to use images as much as you can, with a “headline” summary of the point you want to get across from this slide. Use the Notes feature to write longer text, Presenter View to have them available during the presentation, and include them in the handouts (if someone asks you for your slides) OK great, got it – IMAGES!!! But…. 13
  • 14. Um, not like this. Unless the point here is that “Agile is complicated and much like a transportation network” I don’t think this is a good candidate for a slide. I could do a whole talk on problematic infographics and misleading graphs – but we’ve probably seen enough of those during these COVID times that you already can think of a few. 14
  • 15. Here’s an example from an online conference I was at just a few days ago. WHAT IS THAT DIAGRAM? 15
  • 16. by Khalay Chio from the Noun Project A diagram, graph or infographic needs to be simple, readable and support whatever point you’re making. Even a photo needs to be relevant or it will just be distracting 16
  • 17. See what I mean? LOOK A QUOKKA oh wait what’s she talking about?? 17
  • 18. Now here’s one that I struggle with a bit as you may have noticed – I am NOT a designer Slides shouldn’t hurt your eyes. Unless like Cat Swetel, you make ugly slides like this one on purpose so that they will be memorable. (It worked, this is from 2018 and I remembered that I had a photo of this ugly slide). 18
  • 19. Here’s some ideas – don’t have to be stuck in PowerPoint or Slides, you can use a tool like Canva (which I used for this – don’t blame Canva if you hate my slides though) Have a crack at hand drawing your slides – I am sure Rebecca’s talk earlier today gave y’all some ideas. This pic is Katrina Clokie presenting a few years ago, this was the first time I had seen hand drawn slides! Or, seek help – one of my consultant friends uses a designer (“two red dogs”) for all of his slides – maybe you’ve got a friend who’ll work for coffee or something? So you have decided on a tool, you’re ready to get right in and do the slides… 19
  • 20. Don’t just start cracking away in the tool. Begin with the STORY not with the SLIDES. No matter what you’re presenting on, there’s always a STORY. This is how presentations are made to be engaging. You need to set out your ideas in a way that the audience will find them memorable. 20
  • 21. Think of your presentation design as a movie storyboard which has both plot lines and pictures. Make sure the audience has a “what’s in it for me” – So an outline of this presentation might look like: You’re at the beginning of your speaking journey You want to be a speaker that people enjoy listening to Your challenge is to keep the audience engaged during your talks How can this be achieved? 21
  • 22. Glad you asked! Here’s the TL;DR summary that I am really tempted to read out because it looks like a list!! If we were at an in-person conference this would be the slide I hope people would take a photo of as their main takeaway, which is why it is here in this format despite all my other advice. AND my last thought is…. 22
  • 23. There is no law that says you have to have a slide deck! Check out these awesome speakers. Jeff Patton, draws while he’s talking and has a special projector setup to show you what he’s drawing Angie Jones is live coding in one of her talks Lynne Cazaly doing an online talk where she draws and uses props instead of slides, have to say if you can do this well it’s much more engaging online. That’s all I have - GO FORTH AND BE AWESOME! 23