by Randall P. Whatley
Programs like PowerPoint can make a presentation more effective and powerful if they are used correctly. If they are used incorrectly, however, they can detract from an otherwise good presentation.
Common mistakes made by using these audio-visual supports include the following:
Even thought many workplace audiences now expect visual support to presentations, the use of this technology creates distance between the presenter and the audience. This barrier makes it more difficult for the presenter to connect or "bond," with the audience.
Technology also introduces another level of complexity to presentations, which causes more anxiety for the presenter. Instead of focusing on verbal communication with the audience, presenters using technology are distracted by a myriad of potential mechanical problems. Is all of the equipment compatible? Will you have to reboot your computer?
Will the projector work? Is the computer capable of running the presentation graphics? All of these things can distract you from your presentation and cause you to lose your connection to the audience.
Studies have proven that when presenters add a visual component to their presentations, the audience’s retention increases. Although the use of visual components is encouraged, presenters should construct their presentations so that the technological aspects of the presentation do not detract from their actual presentation. Presenters must bear in mind that the visual components of their presentations are designed simply to supplement and complement their presentations. It should not become the core of their presentation.
PowerPoint users commonly make the following presentation mistakes.
These PowerPoint presentation mistakes can be corrected practicing the following two rules:
Another mistake is putting too much information on a slide. Presenters exhaust their audience by making them read too many words. This works against you in at least two ways: First, it's distracting. Second, people can read much faster than you or I can talk, so if the presenter gets up there and starts reading slides, it's going to be redundant- and, boring!
Many presenters who embrace technology actually approach the task of preparing their presentation backwards. "Techies" who use presentation tools like PowerPoint often think first about their visual component. They think primarily about having fun creating their slides. Unfortunately, this method only leads to rigid, linear, and boring presentations.
What is missing from these types of presentations?
The following are essential ingredients of a good presentation:
How should you prepare a technology-based presentation correctly? First, make some abbreviated notes about the presentation. Then, answer the following questions:
What information do I have that is complicated?
Finally, practice using the technology until you are completely comfortable with its operation.
Randall P. Whatley is president of Cypress Media Group, an advertising, public relations, and training firm. Cypress Media Group provides training primarily related to business and technical writing, presentation skills, and media relations. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.