PowerPoint presentations that support our key messages

January 29, 2014 | Blog-Admin1 | Methods & Tools |


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Nadia & DanielleWhat does it need to prepare powerful PowerPoint presentations that trigger the attenction and the curiosity of our audience? How can slides support the delivery of  the key messages we want to bring accross as presentors and speakers? The trend is clear: We have to make our presentations visual, shorter, with less text and more images.

Nadia von Holzen & Danielle Rosset, SDC

The trend is visual content: On Slideshare, the largest community to share slides, presentations are shorter, with less text and more images. But still, in our organisational culture we too often overload presentations with too many details.  Worse, in the overflow of information the key messages get lost. And slides full of bullet points are not inspiring for our audience’s brains and hearts.

How can we do better?

Its better for them to leave hungry and curious  rather than overwhelmed and confused!
Steve Davis

pp presentations_2

Lets make it an iceberg

If we tell what really matters and not all we know we win. If we know our messages and stick to them, we have better chances to inspire the audience to take action.

No change, no point . A presentation that doesn’t seek to make change is a waste of time and energy.
Seth Godin

Slides like traffic signs

If we make slides like traffic signs they are easier for people to grasp. Simple and visual slides support our messages best. And they offer the audience additional orientation during the presentation.

For the design of the slides this means:

  • Photos and drawings are understandable in any language (this might be an advantage!)
  • For text slides: short, easy, big fonts, clear and easy to grasp – like traffic signs.
  • Less is more: we prepare few but clear and inspiring slides.
  • Handouts and slides are not the same. We really care, if we prepare them separately.
  • We go for few but quality slides. We really have to respect the time slot. «Oh sorry, no time anymore» is a no go.

And never forget

The slides are for the audience not for us speakers. We have to prepare our proper cheat sheet.

Lets try to make different PowerPoint presentations that stick, that inspire and that make people move!

More inspiration

Related stories

  • Simplicity wins – visualization as well. Tips for your next presentation by SDC Learning & Networking
  • Peter Point’s Dream – PowerPoint Presentations and its Pitfalls by SDC Learning & Networking
  • Why every presentation should be a little drama… by Babette Pfander on the SDC Learning & Networking blog:



Comments to“PowerPoint presentations that support our key messages”

  1. Another great blog post – your sense of timing was amazing.

    It arrived while I was helping a friend in Khartoum to think about a presentation she is giving to an international event in Asia. Let me share with you what I’d written about her draft presentation:

    Dear …. a few initial observations:

    The presentation lacks a roadmap so that the audience knows where you are taking them – think of this as a journey and you are the guide. Let the audience know when you have arrived as well and recap on the journey. Too many presentations tail off due to time.
    How long is the presentation – as a guide I usually reckon 4 minutes a slide – excluding break slides
    I think you have too many – yesterday i ran a 2 hour workshop that included a 50 minute presentation with 25 slides
    I would use this as a framework for each of the case studies
    The Story
    Your ‘takeaways
    And I’d personalise each with a real character.
    Also stylistically I’s only have three bullets a page. I’ve noticed the tendency to pack slides with too much information. Its a case of ‘Less is More’
    What are the three things you want them to take away from the presentation. Tell them up front, tell them as you go and tell them at the end.
    End of snip

    I suggested (as this is a health presentation) that she create a fictituous village with named characters and suspected ‘issues’ and that they focus their discussions on those. And that they become the focal point of their subsequent discussions.

  2. Danielle Rosset says:

    Paul thank you for sharing your observations.
    I really like the image of taking your audience to a journey and being their guide…

    For me a presentation is a process with a starting point and a significant endpoint that encourages change. When your audience feels encouraged to take action after your presentation the guide has successfully lead them to a new adventure with a new process.

  3. While PowerPoint is probably your safest bet when you need visual support for your presentations, alternatives do exists. Personally, I like Pretzi, which allows a presenter to follow a less linear sequence of slides. Getting the audience involved personally has to be the ultimate goal, and in certain fields an old-fashioned whiteboard works better at keeping your listeners alert.

  4. There are some great analogies in this post. I really like the idea of slides as traffic signs – quick to interpret, and mostly graphical.

    The idea of a talk being like a journey is powerful, too. Here’s my thoughts on that:

    (Comments there are always very welcome, and by all means leave a link as well if you’d like to.)

  5. Dear Craig, thanks for sharing the link. It’s indeed best to picture a presentation as circular talk. That’s why I like John Zimmer: A good speech or presentation is circular, in that it ends where it began. We really would win a lot as presenters by “taking people on a journey, in their heads and in their hearts” as you blogged. Best, Nadia


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