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The 5 Cardinal Rules of Terrific PowerPoint Presentations


The world of business meetings would probably be a better place with a wide-sweeping ban on bad PowerPoint presentations. A business presentation is meant to inform, motivate and create a call to action. Yet, time after time, the abuse and misuse of PowerPoint technology detracts from the original intent of the meeting.

Minds drift and wander in and out of consciousness while the presentation drones on. You can create and deliver a powerful PowerPoint presentation if you understand the five cardinal rules of terrific PowerPoint presentations.

It’s a Tool: The first broken cardinal rule of effective PowerPoint presentations is forgetting what the software is. PowerPoint isn’t a word document program or a means to dump data. Cutting and pasting text from a written document into the PowerPoint is a sure-fire method to losing your audience. Forget the role of writer. Keeping the mindset of a presenter is the first step in wowing your audience.

Simple Is What Simple Does: Simplicity is at the heart of good business. The unfettered look of the Google home page or the clean and simple design of the iPod creates a passionate fan base.

To move people with your business presentation, you’re PowerPoint needs to evoke emotion with simple, yet powerful messages and images. Less is really more when delivering a top-notch business presentation.

Pictures Over Words: The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words,” is the essence of effective PowerPoint presentations. Winners of Slideshare.net (a PowerPoint presentation website), World’s Best Presentation Contest used heavy graphics and big fonts. Each winning presentation used compelling photos not clipart. We see presentations not read them.

Build the Unexpected: To create a memorable business presentation, you need to go beyond the expected. Stirring up controversy or challenging the beliefs of your audience is a method to wake them up.

“If we want to motivate people to pay attention we should seize the power of big surprises,” say Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the bestseller, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Die and Others Survive. The brother’s principle of unexpected stickiness is to break patterns, create mystery, build unique stories, and find knowledge gaps. The unexpected equals attention.

Readers Beware: A good friend of mine did his college presentation from typed notes, never once looking up while reading the entire speech. Talk about boring. It’s a common practice to see PowerPoint presentations load with text and bullet points prompting the presenter to read. To wow your audience, don’t use the PowerPoint as a note toll. Spend the time to know your stuff so you don’t have to rely on crammed bullet point text.

PowerPoint doesn’t replace you. It’s merely a tool in your presentation. Remembering this simple yet profound statement will help you craft and deliver the perfect PowerPoint presentation.

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