I amke no secret of the fact that I am a huge fan of the Beyond Bullets blog, an incredibly useful site on the subjects of PowerPoint and presentations.
The most recent lesson from Beyond Bullets is called Aristotle’s Top Ten PowerPoint Tips
Here’s the fundamental problem:
“When you work in PowerPoint in a storyboard view, it can be a very powerful way to capture, distill and arrange your thoughts. But PowerPoint is also a visual design tool, and we’ve unfortunately fallen victim to an unfortunate side-effect — obsessing over the surfaces of individual slides at the expense of the structure of the argument across slides. In many cases, there is no rhetorical structure whatsoever in a PowerPoint presentation, only a loosely-related string of lists. Instead of a strong and clear argument, we get a weak and fragmented assortment of ideas that muddy up the minds of the audience and the speaker.”
Here are Aristotle’s (that’s the ancient Greek Aristotle, not Shaq, the Big Aristotle) top ten tips:
“1. Be logical.
2. Think clearly.
3. Reason cogently.
4. Remember that argument is the life and soul of persuasion.
5. Study human nature.
6. Observe the characters and emotions of your audience, as well as your own character and emotions.
7. Attend to delivery.
8. Use language rightly.
9. Arrange your material well.
10. End crisply.”
Finally, the Beyond Bullet’s lesson to be learned:
“Tip: Before you start working on your visuals, view your PowerPoint slides in Slide Sorter and check them against this 10-point checklist of tips. Are your headlines logical, and orderly? Have you researched your audience? Do you have a crisp ending? Practice giving the presentation to your team with only the headlines, so you can attend to your delivery. When your headlines, storyboard structure and delivery have all passed the bar of Aristotle’s Top 10 Tips, then it’s time to start working on your visuals, confident they have a solid foundation to rest upon. This way, even if your laptop fails and you don’t have a PowerPoint to work with, you’ll know you have 2,500 years of history to guide your sails on a clear course toward results.”
I’ve probably given at least a hundred different PowerPoint presentations and read just about everything I can get my hands on about using PowerPoint. I can tell you that you will have a difficult time finding any better advice than what you will find in this Beyond Bullets post.
If you are a serious student of PowerPoint, I’ll tell you that the two books from which I have unquestionably learned the most about using PowerPoint in presentations are Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics and Jerry Weissman’s Presenting to Win, neither of which, as the astute reader might notice, appear to have much to do with PowerPoint.