by Lei Han
My husband shared this video with me and I laughed out loud – “Life after Death by Powerpoint” by Don McMillan. Within 4 minutes, Don talked about some of the most common mistakes we make with our PowerPoint presentations. Here are my favorites.
What Not to Do
#1: Spelling out Every Word on a Slide
I know it’s nerve wracking to present in front of a group of people. It’s natural to try to hide behind our PowerPoint presentations. One of the most common mistakes we make is putting every detail we want to say on a slide. At least this way, we won’t forget the details, right?
Well, that may be true, but you also gave away your credibility as you effectively make your presentation useless and boring. Only put the key points on the slides and then think about interesting facts or a story you can share that isn’t shown on the slide.
This way your presentation is interesting and the focus is still on you instead of your slides. The key to a great presentation is practice, practice, practice.
#2: Spelling Mistakes
It’s amazing we still see this in presentations. Take the time to spell check your slides. Watch out especially for words that won’t be caught by Microsoft spell checker but are used incorrectly in a sentence. Here are some examples of the most common mistakes we all still make in all our writing.
- affect vs. effect
- perspective vs prospective,
- lose vs. loose
#3: Too Many Bullets Become a Laundry List
Many people will tell us to use bullets in presentations to make it easier to digest. What is often forgotten with this rule is that the most optimal is three to five bullets. Any more than that becomes a laundry list that overwhelms our audience. If you have a lot more bullets to share, then organize it by themes.
#4: Overuse of Data and Char
This is a mistake I see almost every week in presentations, even by executives. Most put too much data on one slide and worse don’t clearly label the axis to indicate what the numbers represent.
The goal of a good slide is to be able to figure out the point of it within the first minute of looking at it. If you show it to someone and they can’t, then there is either too much data or lack of clarity of what you really trying to say.
Less is more so figure out the “so what” of the slide and only put data that supports that point. You will waste less time making data heavy slides and be better heard by your audience.