Stupidest Presentation Mistake

This is a rant, and it's a venting of my fury about the biggest mistake that most presenters make when preparing for an upcoming presentation. As such, strong opinions are contained in the paragraph below. Don't expect me to be nice. Don't expect me to be considerate of your feelings. Heck, don't even expect proper grammar or punctuation...this is a rant, and it's one that most presenters deserve to hear. 

"Let's Make a Powerpoint" 
At University, students get the opportunity to practice their presentation skills. I've been a part of these groups. The Professor announces, "Next week, each group will present their proposals". And without fail, one of the team members will immediately turn to the rest of the group and say, "Great, let's make our Powerpoint!"

What's Wrong with this?

  • Content creation should come first. Powerpoint should be the last thing you do.
  • Brainstorm your ideas first and then decide whether you REALLY need Powerpoint. Creating a Powerpoint, most of the time, isn't the best method to persuade and inspire.

"It's Visual Aid"
  • The most frequent excuse people give me as to why they create Powerpoints is that "It's visual aid for the audience". My response? Bullshit...
  • You are using your Powerpoint as a crutch! Students use the words, "Let's make a Powerpoint" not because they believe that it will help the audience, but simply because they want the safety of being able to continually refer to the Powerpoint in case they forget what they have to say. 

"Everyone ELSE uses it as a Crutch, but NOT ME"
  • You say that you don't use Powerpoint as a crutch? You say that you use it simply because you want to help the audience remember the information better?

    Okay, let's see. If you're correct, then you should be able to give the presentation WITHOUT having to refer to the Powerpoint. If you refer continuously to the Powerpoint, then Powerpoint is your crutch. Instead of using notes that you hold in your hand, you're simply using notes that you project on a screen...

Okay, Please Give me a Solution!
  • Prepare your CONTENT first. Brainstorm your ideas. Create a structure. Decide on which points you're going to use and what anecdotes and quotes you're going to use to support those points.
  • After you've got your content, decide if it's appropriate to use Powerpoint. Many times, it probably isn't.
  • If you are going to use Powerpoint: keep Content Creation and Powerpoint design as two different stages. Don't use your Powerpoint to create your content! Content first, powerpoint later... 
  • Stop using Powerpoint as a crutch. You should know your content inside out without having to refer to the screen. Try this...during your practice run, turn off the Powerpoint. See if you can give the presentation without needing the help of "notes projected on the screen".