Presentation Mojo

Recently Ars Technica posted about a study commissioned by the International Journal of Innovation and Learning about the futility of PowerPoint presentations. In summary, it explains how excessive animation and poorly structured presentations put audiences to sleep.

This follows the growing backlash I’ve seen recently against presentation software in general. I find this curious because I was using presentation software before it became popular. I remember the days of walking into a presentation with a projector and everyone looking at me inquisitively wondering exactly what the heck all that gear was for. (I also remember the bad old days before presentation software where I’d spend lots of money on big unwieldy blow ups.)

In the ensuing years, PowerPoint became a staple of business, sales, education, and just about every other scenario where one person needs to communicate information to another. I appreciate that a lot people are sick and tired of “death by PowerPoint.” I disagree that presentation software as a tool is a bad thing. To refine matters, I believe people are sick of bad presentations, not presentations as a whole.

The problem is, that most presentations are bad. While everyone is busy adding animations, transitions, and jingles (yes, jingles) to their presentations, nobody is bothering to figure out how to do one correctly. Using Apple’s Keynote is a good start. It looks so different from the usual PowerPoint templates that it gives you an immediate head start. That is only the beginning though. Keynote is just as easily abused as PowerPoint.

Software developers are not making it any easier with the arms race of tricky animations and visual effects. While these are a lot of fun (when used sparingly), for a lot of misguided presenters, they become a crutch upon which to give a cheesy, sleep inducing presentation. Don’t even get me started on the subject of bullet points and full screen paragraphs.

When done right, a Keynote presentation can complement an oral presentation beautifully. Maybe the problem is people think the presentation software can do the work for them. It doesn’t replace the presenter’s job of conveying information, it only enhances it. The answer is not to abandon presentation software. The answer is to make better presentations.

20 Comments Presentation Mojo

  1. Jeanellecameron@gmail.com

    Extremely true. Keynote is excellent and a marked improvement on powerpoint but a brush is only as good as the painter.

    Reply
  2. Jeanellecameron@gmail.com

    Extremely true. Keynote is excellent and a marked improvement on powerpoint but a brush is only as good as the painter.

    Reply
  3. Jeanellecameron@gmail.com

    Extremely true. Keynote is excellent and a marked improvement on powerpoint but a brush is only as good as the painter.

    Reply
  4. Jeanellecameron@gmail.com

    Extremely true. Keynote is excellent and a marked improvement on powerpoint but a brush is only as good as the painter.

    Reply
  5. Jeanellecameron@gmail.com

    Extremely true. Keynote is excellent and a marked improvement on powerpoint but a brush is only as good as the painter.

    Reply
  6. jimbenster@earthlink.net

    So please share with us your ideas and principles for creating presentations that are effective and don’t put people to sleep. Don’t just leave us with a list of things that don’t work.

    Reply
  7. jimbenster@earthlink.net

    So please share with us your ideas and principles for creating presentations that are effective and don’t put people to sleep. Don’t just leave us with a list of things that don’t work.

    Reply
  8. jimbenster@earthlink.net

    So please share with us your ideas and principles for creating presentations that are effective and don’t put people to sleep. Don’t just leave us with a list of things that don’t work.

    Reply
  9. jimbenster@earthlink.net

    So please share with us your ideas and principles for creating presentations that are effective and don’t put people to sleep. Don’t just leave us with a list of things that don’t work.

    Reply
  10. jimbenster@earthlink.net

    So please share with us your ideas and principles for creating presentations that are effective and don’t put people to sleep. Don’t just leave us with a list of things that don’t work.

    Reply
  11. Finis@TechnoEsq.com

    Let’s try this again:

    I couldn’t agree more with you David. We have to routinely “talk” our clients, fellow lawyers, out of slide after slide of text and bullet points. It seems PowerPoint’s limitations has forced them into thinking they have to use a lot of text and intersperse images within the text. We have to convince them the reverse is true; they need to intersperse some words into the visual elements of the presentation.

    A lot of our clientele hire TechnoEsq Presentations to run their presentation for them and we often instruct them to not look at the presentation as it is being displayed because they will invariably use it as a “crutch” for their oral presentation, which is where I think their desire for words comes from. They want the presentation to keep themselves on track. I remind them that the video presentation is not for them and is merely to visually supplement what they are saying. As such, they should be looking at the visual presentation and let us make sure the presentation is following them, not them following the presentation. Due to this, they come more prepared and are less prone to ramble since they know someone is trying to follow them with a fixed presentation.

    Keynote is so much more advanced than PowerPoint most people can’t believe it is displaying slides and instead think it is a movie. It is amazing what the polish Apple has placed on the slide program has done for presentations. I will say that we utilize many other programs such as TrialSmart and Sanctions (when forced to) when presenting, but nothing beats Keynote when creating a planned and outlined presentation.

    Finis
    http://www.TechnoEsqPresentations.com

    Reply
  12. Finis@TechnoEsq.com

    Let’s try this again:

    I couldn’t agree more with you David. We have to routinely “talk” our clients, fellow lawyers, out of slide after slide of text and bullet points. It seems PowerPoint’s limitations has forced them into thinking they have to use a lot of text and intersperse images within the text. We have to convince them the reverse is true; they need to intersperse some words into the visual elements of the presentation.

    A lot of our clientele hire TechnoEsq Presentations to run their presentation for them and we often instruct them to not look at the presentation as it is being displayed because they will invariably use it as a “crutch” for their oral presentation, which is where I think their desire for words comes from. They want the presentation to keep themselves on track. I remind them that the video presentation is not for them and is merely to visually supplement what they are saying. As such, they should be looking at the visual presentation and let us make sure the presentation is following them, not them following the presentation. Due to this, they come more prepared and are less prone to ramble since they know someone is trying to follow them with a fixed presentation.

    Keynote is so much more advanced than PowerPoint most people can’t believe it is displaying slides and instead think it is a movie. It is amazing what the polish Apple has placed on the slide program has done for presentations. I will say that we utilize many other programs such as TrialSmart and Sanctions (when forced to) when presenting, but nothing beats Keynote when creating a planned and outlined presentation.

    Finis
    http://www.TechnoEsqPresentations.com

    Reply
  13. Finis@TechnoEsq.com

    Let’s try this again:

    I couldn’t agree more with you David. We have to routinely “talk” our clients, fellow lawyers, out of slide after slide of text and bullet points. It seems PowerPoint’s limitations has forced them into thinking they have to use a lot of text and intersperse images within the text. We have to convince them the reverse is true; they need to intersperse some words into the visual elements of the presentation.

    A lot of our clientele hire TechnoEsq Presentations to run their presentation for them and we often instruct them to not look at the presentation as it is being displayed because they will invariably use it as a “crutch” for their oral presentation, which is where I think their desire for words comes from. They want the presentation to keep themselves on track. I remind them that the video presentation is not for them and is merely to visually supplement what they are saying. As such, they should be looking at the visual presentation and let us make sure the presentation is following them, not them following the presentation. Due to this, they come more prepared and are less prone to ramble since they know someone is trying to follow them with a fixed presentation.

    Keynote is so much more advanced than PowerPoint most people can’t believe it is displaying slides and instead think it is a movie. It is amazing what the polish Apple has placed on the slide program has done for presentations. I will say that we utilize many other programs such as TrialSmart and Sanctions (when forced to) when presenting, but nothing beats Keynote when creating a planned and outlined presentation.

    Finis
    http://www.TechnoEsqPresentations.com

    Reply
  14. Finis@TechnoEsq.com

    Let’s try this again:

    I couldn’t agree more with you David. We have to routinely “talk” our clients, fellow lawyers, out of slide after slide of text and bullet points. It seems PowerPoint’s limitations has forced them into thinking they have to use a lot of text and intersperse images within the text. We have to convince them the reverse is true; they need to intersperse some words into the visual elements of the presentation.

    A lot of our clientele hire TechnoEsq Presentations to run their presentation for them and we often instruct them to not look at the presentation as it is being displayed because they will invariably use it as a “crutch” for their oral presentation, which is where I think their desire for words comes from. They want the presentation to keep themselves on track. I remind them that the video presentation is not for them and is merely to visually supplement what they are saying. As such, they should be looking at the visual presentation and let us make sure the presentation is following them, not them following the presentation. Due to this, they come more prepared and are less prone to ramble since they know someone is trying to follow them with a fixed presentation.

    Keynote is so much more advanced than PowerPoint most people can’t believe it is displaying slides and instead think it is a movie. It is amazing what the polish Apple has placed on the slide program has done for presentations. I will say that we utilize many other programs such as TrialSmart and Sanctions (when forced to) when presenting, but nothing beats Keynote when creating a planned and outlined presentation.

    Finis
    http://www.TechnoEsqPresentations.com

    Reply
  15. Finis@TechnoEsq.com

    Let’s try this again:

    I couldn’t agree more with you David. We have to routinely “talk” our clients, fellow lawyers, out of slide after slide of text and bullet points. It seems PowerPoint’s limitations has forced them into thinking they have to use a lot of text and intersperse images within the text. We have to convince them the reverse is true; they need to intersperse some words into the visual elements of the presentation.

    A lot of our clientele hire TechnoEsq Presentations to run their presentation for them and we often instruct them to not look at the presentation as it is being displayed because they will invariably use it as a “crutch” for their oral presentation, which is where I think their desire for words comes from. They want the presentation to keep themselves on track. I remind them that the video presentation is not for them and is merely to visually supplement what they are saying. As such, they should be looking at the visual presentation and let us make sure the presentation is following them, not them following the presentation. Due to this, they come more prepared and are less prone to ramble since they know someone is trying to follow them with a fixed presentation.

    Keynote is so much more advanced than PowerPoint most people can’t believe it is displaying slides and instead think it is a movie. It is amazing what the polish Apple has placed on the slide program has done for presentations. I will say that we utilize many other programs such as TrialSmart and Sanctions (when forced to) when presenting, but nothing beats Keynote when creating a planned and outlined presentation.

    Finis
    http://www.TechnoEsqPresentations.com

    Reply
  16. dmking108@gmail.com

    Well, I’m not the author of this blog, but having given workshops for decades, using everything from flipcharts to an overhead projector with transparencies to PowerPoint and now Keynote, please allow me to share some of my theories and principles:

    1. Figure out, with great honesty, who you are. If you’re a droll, “just the facts” type of person, using cutesy clip art and pausing for stupid animations takes away from the overall presentation as people will remember the contradiction more than the content.

    2. Presentations should not be books or repetition of data. If that’s all your presentation is, just write it down and give everyone a copy. If need be, meet with your audience, tell everyone “here it is,” and then go home.

    3. Presentations should be a synergy between three things: the presenter, hand-outs, and the presentation. Of these, the most important is the presenter.

    3a. Everything in the hand-outs should compliment and give raw data mentioned by the presenter. That way, people can pay attention to your interpretations of the data and not worry about copying the data. Put it is a format that is appropriate for hand-outs, not merely copies of slides.

    3b. Slides and everything on them should add to what you are saying, clarifying your comments. Any animation that takes attention away from the presenter is wasted and should be avoided. Putting what you are saying on a slide is redundant, not synergistic.

    4. Know your subject intimately. The notes on which you base your talk during the presentation should be notes that allow you to make sure you cover all the points you want to cover, not a speech to be read.

    5. The most important question to ask yourself about every aspect of the presentation is: “Why?” Why am I showing this slide? Why do I think this I need to say it, display it and hand it out? Why should one part of the presentation occur before another? Slides have transitions that allows you to smoothly go from slide to slide…does what I’m saying also have such transitions? Why not? Why am I giving this presentation and what am I trying to get across?

    6. People are familiar with the structure of books, movies, and TV shows that have a beginning, middle, and end. Does your presentation follow this format? If not, you may lose your audience.

    7. If your presentation is synergistic between the three aspects (presenter, slides, hand-outs), there are three more things you need to do to have a great presentation: practice, practice, practice

    8. Planning is what you do and follow until you actually give the presentation. Then, a new synergy develops between presenter, slides, hand-outs, and audience. Know your topic so well that you can also watch the audience instead of staring at your notes or slides. Are they smiling? Nodding? Nodding off? Looking at the clock or door? Sitting with arms crossed? Read their body language and change your presentation accordingly.

    9. Set your goal (look up “SMART Goals” on the web) and be prepared to abandon all of the above in order to achieve the goal: an effective presentation. Forget all “rules” from all writers on presentations, including the ones above. The only thing that matters is that you achieve your goal of getting people to understand the information you’re presenting.

    Reply
  17. dmking108@gmail.com

    Well, I’m not the author of this blog, but having given workshops for decades, using everything from flipcharts to an overhead projector with transparencies to PowerPoint and now Keynote, please allow me to share some of my theories and principles:

    1. Figure out, with great honesty, who you are. If you’re a droll, “just the facts” type of person, using cutesy clip art and pausing for stupid animations takes away from the overall presentation as people will remember the contradiction more than the content.

    2. Presentations should not be books or repetition of data. If that’s all your presentation is, just write it down and give everyone a copy. If need be, meet with your audience, tell everyone “here it is,” and then go home.

    3. Presentations should be a synergy between three things: the presenter, hand-outs, and the presentation. Of these, the most important is the presenter.

    3a. Everything in the hand-outs should compliment and give raw data mentioned by the presenter. That way, people can pay attention to your interpretations of the data and not worry about copying the data. Put it is a format that is appropriate for hand-outs, not merely copies of slides.

    3b. Slides and everything on them should add to what you are saying, clarifying your comments. Any animation that takes attention away from the presenter is wasted and should be avoided. Putting what you are saying on a slide is redundant, not synergistic.

    4. Know your subject intimately. The notes on which you base your talk during the presentation should be notes that allow you to make sure you cover all the points you want to cover, not a speech to be read.

    5. The most important question to ask yourself about every aspect of the presentation is: “Why?” Why am I showing this slide? Why do I think this I need to say it, display it and hand it out? Why should one part of the presentation occur before another? Slides have transitions that allows you to smoothly go from slide to slide…does what I’m saying also have such transitions? Why not? Why am I giving this presentation and what am I trying to get across?

    6. People are familiar with the structure of books, movies, and TV shows that have a beginning, middle, and end. Does your presentation follow this format? If not, you may lose your audience.

    7. If your presentation is synergistic between the three aspects (presenter, slides, hand-outs), there are three more things you need to do to have a great presentation: practice, practice, practice

    8. Planning is what you do and follow until you actually give the presentation. Then, a new synergy develops between presenter, slides, hand-outs, and audience. Know your topic so well that you can also watch the audience instead of staring at your notes or slides. Are they smiling? Nodding? Nodding off? Looking at the clock or door? Sitting with arms crossed? Read their body language and change your presentation accordingly.

    9. Set your goal (look up “SMART Goals” on the web) and be prepared to abandon all of the above in order to achieve the goal: an effective presentation. Forget all “rules” from all writers on presentations, including the ones above. The only thing that matters is that you achieve your goal of getting people to understand the information you’re presenting.

    Reply
  18. dmking108@gmail.com

    Well, I’m not the author of this blog, but having given workshops for decades, using everything from flipcharts to an overhead projector with transparencies to PowerPoint and now Keynote, please allow me to share some of my theories and principles:

    1. Figure out, with great honesty, who you are. If you’re a droll, “just the facts” type of person, using cutesy clip art and pausing for stupid animations takes away from the overall presentation as people will remember the contradiction more than the content.

    2. Presentations should not be books or repetition of data. If that’s all your presentation is, just write it down and give everyone a copy. If need be, meet with your audience, tell everyone “here it is,” and then go home.

    3. Presentations should be a synergy between three things: the presenter, hand-outs, and the presentation. Of these, the most important is the presenter.

    3a. Everything in the hand-outs should compliment and give raw data mentioned by the presenter. That way, people can pay attention to your interpretations of the data and not worry about copying the data. Put it is a format that is appropriate for hand-outs, not merely copies of slides.

    3b. Slides and everything on them should add to what you are saying, clarifying your comments. Any animation that takes attention away from the presenter is wasted and should be avoided. Putting what you are saying on a slide is redundant, not synergistic.

    4. Know your subject intimately. The notes on which you base your talk during the presentation should be notes that allow you to make sure you cover all the points you want to cover, not a speech to be read.

    5. The most important question to ask yourself about every aspect of the presentation is: “Why?” Why am I showing this slide? Why do I think this I need to say it, display it and hand it out? Why should one part of the presentation occur before another? Slides have transitions that allows you to smoothly go from slide to slide…does what I’m saying also have such transitions? Why not? Why am I giving this presentation and what am I trying to get across?

    6. People are familiar with the structure of books, movies, and TV shows that have a beginning, middle, and end. Does your presentation follow this format? If not, you may lose your audience.

    7. If your presentation is synergistic between the three aspects (presenter, slides, hand-outs), there are three more things you need to do to have a great presentation: practice, practice, practice

    8. Planning is what you do and follow until you actually give the presentation. Then, a new synergy develops between presenter, slides, hand-outs, and audience. Know your topic so well that you can also watch the audience instead of staring at your notes or slides. Are they smiling? Nodding? Nodding off? Looking at the clock or door? Sitting with arms crossed? Read their body language and change your presentation accordingly.

    9. Set your goal (look up “SMART Goals” on the web) and be prepared to abandon all of the above in order to achieve the goal: an effective presentation. Forget all “rules” from all writers on presentations, including the ones above. The only thing that matters is that you achieve your goal of getting people to understand the information you’re presenting.

    Reply
  19. dmking108@gmail.com

    Well, I’m not the author of this blog, but having given workshops for decades, using everything from flipcharts to an overhead projector with transparencies to PowerPoint and now Keynote, please allow me to share some of my theories and principles:

    1. Figure out, with great honesty, who you are. If you’re a droll, “just the facts” type of person, using cutesy clip art and pausing for stupid animations takes away from the overall presentation as people will remember the contradiction more than the content.

    2. Presentations should not be books or repetition of data. If that’s all your presentation is, just write it down and give everyone a copy. If need be, meet with your audience, tell everyone “here it is,” and then go home.

    3. Presentations should be a synergy between three things: the presenter, hand-outs, and the presentation. Of these, the most important is the presenter.

    3a. Everything in the hand-outs should compliment and give raw data mentioned by the presenter. That way, people can pay attention to your interpretations of the data and not worry about copying the data. Put it is a format that is appropriate for hand-outs, not merely copies of slides.

    3b. Slides and everything on them should add to what you are saying, clarifying your comments. Any animation that takes attention away from the presenter is wasted and should be avoided. Putting what you are saying on a slide is redundant, not synergistic.

    4. Know your subject intimately. The notes on which you base your talk during the presentation should be notes that allow you to make sure you cover all the points you want to cover, not a speech to be read.

    5. The most important question to ask yourself about every aspect of the presentation is: “Why?” Why am I showing this slide? Why do I think this I need to say it, display it and hand it out? Why should one part of the presentation occur before another? Slides have transitions that allows you to smoothly go from slide to slide…does what I’m saying also have such transitions? Why not? Why am I giving this presentation and what am I trying to get across?

    6. People are familiar with the structure of books, movies, and TV shows that have a beginning, middle, and end. Does your presentation follow this format? If not, you may lose your audience.

    7. If your presentation is synergistic between the three aspects (presenter, slides, hand-outs), there are three more things you need to do to have a great presentation: practice, practice, practice

    8. Planning is what you do and follow until you actually give the presentation. Then, a new synergy develops between presenter, slides, hand-outs, and audience. Know your topic so well that you can also watch the audience instead of staring at your notes or slides. Are they smiling? Nodding? Nodding off? Looking at the clock or door? Sitting with arms crossed? Read their body language and change your presentation accordingly.

    9. Set your goal (look up “SMART Goals” on the web) and be prepared to abandon all of the above in order to achieve the goal: an effective presentation. Forget all “rules” from all writers on presentations, including the ones above. The only thing that matters is that you achieve your goal of getting people to understand the information you’re presenting.

    Reply
  20. dmking108@gmail.com

    Well, I’m not the author of this blog, but having given workshops for decades, using everything from flipcharts to an overhead projector with transparencies to PowerPoint and now Keynote, please allow me to share some of my theories and principles:

    1. Figure out, with great honesty, who you are. If you’re a droll, “just the facts” type of person, using cutesy clip art and pausing for stupid animations takes away from the overall presentation as people will remember the contradiction more than the content.

    2. Presentations should not be books or repetition of data. If that’s all your presentation is, just write it down and give everyone a copy. If need be, meet with your audience, tell everyone “here it is,” and then go home.

    3. Presentations should be a synergy between three things: the presenter, hand-outs, and the presentation. Of these, the most important is the presenter.

    3a. Everything in the hand-outs should compliment and give raw data mentioned by the presenter. That way, people can pay attention to your interpretations of the data and not worry about copying the data. Put it is a format that is appropriate for hand-outs, not merely copies of slides.

    3b. Slides and everything on them should add to what you are saying, clarifying your comments. Any animation that takes attention away from the presenter is wasted and should be avoided. Putting what you are saying on a slide is redundant, not synergistic.

    4. Know your subject intimately. The notes on which you base your talk during the presentation should be notes that allow you to make sure you cover all the points you want to cover, not a speech to be read.

    5. The most important question to ask yourself about every aspect of the presentation is: “Why?” Why am I showing this slide? Why do I think this I need to say it, display it and hand it out? Why should one part of the presentation occur before another? Slides have transitions that allows you to smoothly go from slide to slide…does what I’m saying also have such transitions? Why not? Why am I giving this presentation and what am I trying to get across?

    6. People are familiar with the structure of books, movies, and TV shows that have a beginning, middle, and end. Does your presentation follow this format? If not, you may lose your audience.

    7. If your presentation is synergistic between the three aspects (presenter, slides, hand-outs), there are three more things you need to do to have a great presentation: practice, practice, practice

    8. Planning is what you do and follow until you actually give the presentation. Then, a new synergy develops between presenter, slides, hand-outs, and audience. Know your topic so well that you can also watch the audience instead of staring at your notes or slides. Are they smiling? Nodding? Nodding off? Looking at the clock or door? Sitting with arms crossed? Read their body language and change your presentation accordingly.

    9. Set your goal (look up “SMART Goals” on the web) and be prepared to abandon all of the above in order to achieve the goal: an effective presentation. Forget all “rules” from all writers on presentations, including the ones above. The only thing that matters is that you achieve your goal of getting people to understand the information you’re presenting.

    Reply

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