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Escape from the PowerPoint Trap!

What’s the first thing that most people do in developing a new presentation? They open PowerPoint of course, and begin creating slides. That’s how they fall into the PowerPoint Trap!

Great presentations are stories. They may use pictures, graphics or charts as illustrations. But the words that come from the speaker’s mouth tell the story. A better tool for creating a presentation then might be a text editor like MS Word.

The easiest way to approach a presentation story is the traditional instruction: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Then tell them. Then tell them what you told them”. You also need to insert a call-to-action, identifying the most important takeaway of your presentation.

We recommend writing the story first in an essay format. Though you probably would never present it as such, writing it first makes the rest of the process much easier and more effective.

Once you’ve written the story, isolate each point as a separate sentence or paragraph, and paste each of them into the notes of a blank PowerPoint slide. Then looking at each slide, create the best way to illustrate the point. You might use one or more photos, PPT drawings, or charts to support the story visually. If possible stay away from text bullets, especially those that repeat the written text. Finally you can insert the obligatory chart, table or spreadsheet segment if necessary.

When the body of the story is in place, convert the text notes to speaker’s script segments. These vary widely, according to the project format, and your personal style. If you are creating an on-demand presentation for online access, you need an actual script, using short sentences and as few words as possible. If you have created the presentation for live delivery, you usually reduce speaker’s notes to a simple outline.

To capture the audience immediately, you might add an “attention step” to the beginning. This might be a cartoon, a news photo with a surprise caption, an inspirational scene, or anything else with a “wow-factor.” Then you can use the same or a related scene to close the presentation, tying it into the overall message.

And the final preparation step is: Practice, practice, practice!

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