As junior organiser at my local golf club I had to attend an evening meeting on the development of golf at grass roots level. Nothing particularly special about this you may think, and you would probably be right. However this meeting turned into a lesson on how not to present and reinforced the need for The Presenter’s Handbook.
The first speaker introduced the whole concept and message of the evening, as you may expect. However that is where any form of excellence stopped. The presenter fell down on many PowerPoint presenting errors.
The presenter used bullet points to the maximum during the presentation. On some slides 15 separate bullet points were used. Not only were the bullets used but they were then used as a script for the presenter. As we read quicker than the spoken word most of the points were completely lost as was the message of successful achievement within the community. With so many bullet points on the screen this had one major impact on those at the back of the conference room. The font size required to get 15 bullet points on the screen meant those at the back of the room could not read the slides making them pointless. It would have been far better to have just emailed the information to each delegate.
The presenter never really came across as part of the presentation. What I mean by this is that the presenter never presented the material that appeared on screen because it appeared all in one go as a ‘splat’ to the audience. Projecting onto a large screen the opportunity was available to gesture as text came onto the screen, however as all text appeared at once this opportunity was lost.
Transitions play an important role in a presentation, done well they can enhance the message to the audience. Using transitions badly and the audience can be lost in confusion as to what they have just witnessed moving between slides. In this example each slide transition was different with a logo moving at different angles. The logo in question was that of the sponsor and I am sure was designed to draw attention to so said sponsor, however by the end of the meeting you felt antagonised by the sponsoring company. Not something they would wish their audience to feel I am sure.
During the presentation several questions were asked, to answer these question we had to stand up when either A, B, C or D was called out from a list. This interaction purely caused the audience to chatter as seats were moved backward and forwards. In today’s technological age solutions exist that allow audience participation via the use of polling handsets. One popular example is the solution offered by Turning Technologies which seamlessly works with PowerPoint. The presenter could easily have gathered information about the audience but this opportunity was lost.
The second speaker lost all integrity almost immediately by arriving late, not only that but as she started her presentation she drew attention to the fact. There then followed a selection of PowerPoint errors that meant the presenter fell well short of a Power Presenter as outlined in The Presenter’s Handbook.
The presenter had to call upon the services of a stranger to advance the PowerPoint presentation for her. Whilst advancing slides using a colleague is acceptable under certain circumstances, you would have at least practiced and they would know the presentation. In this case, neither of these measures where met making the presentation extremely disjointed and ultimately forgettable.
Just as I thought it was impossible for the presentation to get even more disjointed and forgettable the laser point started to be used. This was used to point out certain elements of the slide, but consider this point. If the point was so important why rely on the laser pointer to make it obvious, surely you should design it into the slide to stand out as a key message? All laser pointers achieve is to highlight and exaggerate the nerves of the presenter as any small movements are enlarged by the time the laser reaches the screen.
These presenters show the need for PowerPoint to be developed as a presentation tool, breaking away from the standard features to produce a Presentation of power and engagement. The examples outlined in this blog are not unusual and I am sure you will be able to easily recall your own experience of poor presentations. The question is do you recognise any of the issues raised in your own presentations? If so The Presenter’s Handbook is for you, if not I am sure colleagues may be in need of a nudge towards becoming a Power Presenter.
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