Death by Powerpoint/PPT/PPTX

Over the past few weeks I've been attending a number of presentations and events.  

I often joke that Powerpoint is Microsoft's most demonstrated product and often it is used too much.     We are fortunate in Microsoft to have some great speaker coaches to help with presentations before big events however it is a tool that should be shown some respect and serious consideration before any presentation.  Too many people just blast out massive Powerpoint decks.  

Over the past few weeks I've seen some appalling presentations....and some great one's... so what's the difference between the two?

Well the appalling presentations tended to follow the worst-practice for giving presentations:

1) Be apathetic about your subject

2) Read slides to people

3) Make sure your demos fail... then continue to try them about 3 or 4 times just so people know it has failed....

So how can you avoid the issues above?  Firstly only speak about subjects you are truly passionate about... if you don't love the subject you won't convey that passion to the people attending your presentation.   At our Microsoft Sales Conference last year I had to present in front of 15,000 Microsoft people.....  Steve Ballmer came up to me just before my presentation to 'psyche' me up... but he did give me some great advice.  He said - " People only ever remember two things about any presentation" "One - are you passionate - do you love what you are talking about - if you are people will go away and investigate more" " Secondly they remember one action they should take and if you convey the passion above they will do it " - " Don't give them 10 things or even 3 things to remember - just one"

The Second point around reading slides to people really irritates me... if people wanted to read slides they can download them from the 'net.  They can save themselves a lot of travel and time away from the office by just reading them themselves.   When I used to manage people and coach them on presentations I would turn off their slides and ask them to present.  They should be the most compelling thing on stage - not the Powerpoint deck.

The Third point for me is unacceptable. If you are going to show a demo of a product it has to work... a failed demo is far more impactful than a successful one.  The biggest cause of failure of demos is lack of preparation.  I always like to give live demos of our Mobile Technology.  I make sure they don't fail through good preparation.  In my 15,000 session described above I had to demo mainly beta Windows Mobile software completely live... I remember a colleague saying afterwards.. that was brave considering everyone/anyone who could have influence on my career in the future was probably in the audience... lucky he told me that afterwards 🙂

If you want to check out some great presentations - take a look HERE.  My personal favourite is Dick Hardt's Identity 2.0 presentation

So what sparked off this blogpost? Well my colleague Loke forwarded me a great slidedeck that someone had presented which was a 'unique' slant on presentations! 

It follows the new trend of just using one slide pictures rather than lots of text in presentations..

Check it out at the URL Below

Comments (4)
  1. Mike Edwards says:

    I couldn’t agree more about the "not reading out slides" comment – I have seen presentations from major manufacturers (Fujitsu Siemens and, yes, Microsoft) where this is done, and it really is annoying. I’m not a two-year-old, I can read it myself thanks.

    On the flip side, though, it is equally annoying when you download a Powerpoint presentation which contains only hints about the subject, which have obviously been expanded upon in great detail by the speaker. ( I am thinking of something MS here but I confess I can’t remember what the topic was).

  2. MSDN Archive says:

    Mike – good comments – when I present very graphical slides and/or demos I always put screenshots or notes in the appendices or notes of the slides to combat your frustration 🙂

  3. Love the Steve Ballmer quote.  Not sure if it always has to be one action, or if it can be one idea you want them to remember. The action seems a tiny bit sales-y (What’s the action: download the trial version? Visit our website?). OTOH, if talk doesn’t lead to action, then what good is it?

    At my talk at SXSW, I had one idea "you need flash AND AJAX to build great websites", and I spoke with passion.

    In fact, I try to always being talks by saying "I’m here today to talk about a really simple idea: ________ (idea goes here). It _really_ helps focus the content of a talk.

  4. Over the past few weeks I’ve been attending a number of presentations and events. I often joke that Powerpoint is Microsoft’s most demonstrated product and often it is used too much. We are fortunate in Microsoft to have some great speaker coaches to

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