by Peter Watts
When people feel they need something to be really big, you have to wonder if they’re compensating for something.
Let’s take super-sized slide-decks for example. What hidden inadequacies might all that PowerPoint be trying to hide?
If your megabytes are bulking into gigabytes, take a moment to check that you’re not compensating for something:
Presenting direct from an unmodified standard slide-deck of a couple of hundred catch-all slides is a sure-fire sign of a presenter who did no more preparation beyond bringing their power chord.
When in doubt, leave nothing out! Going into battle armed with every single slide you can possibly find is a frequent clue that you don’t know your message.
Inadequate audience understanding?
If you don’t understand the audience, it’s awful hard to meet their needs. The one-size-fits-all maxi-presentation is the inevitable response.
Inadequate product knowledge?
When you don’t know your product, the slides have to do the work for you; after all, you’re relying on them for all the information.
Giant-sized PowerPoints are no compensation for mini-sized skills. Competent presenters tame slide-decks down to manageable proportions. Really skilled presenters hardly use slide-decks at all.
Consistently strip your slide decks down to reveal their messages, or audiences might start stripping you down to reveal what you’re hiding.
Check the amount of talk-time that each slide is giving you. Good working slides will sustain you for at least three minutes of talk-time. As you grow in experience, each slide should be capable of sustaining you for ever longer periods:
- Beginner: Three minutes
- Intermediate: Five minutes
- Pro: Seven minutes
- Über-Pro: Who needs slides?
As your confidence levels develop, try having sections of your presentation where you switch off the slides altogether and talk directly to your audience.
How many PowerPoint slides should you have? As few as possible.