The Bad Side of a Slide Presentation

By: Rafael Van Dyke

A couple of years ago, I went to a conference for programmers in Arizona, where I had the opportunity to attend several one-hour classes. Virtually all of the instructors used slide presentations to get through the material. Though there was nothing wrong with the material that was covered, the slide presentations they used really did nothing to help them in their session. It would have been just as good for them to print out their speech and give it the audience a copy to read along with.

There were a select few with slide presentations that actually aided in their session. In fact, they were so good that after a while I paid more attention to the presenter than the slide presentation (for me, that an accomplishment!); but they were rare. I’m sure it was because they were programmers; but all the same, allow me to outline why they were so bad:

A Slide Presentation Is Not the Presentation
The first mistake most presenters made was to think that a detailed slide presentation would compensate for poor communication skills, when nothing could be further from the truth. Some of them almost had their entire lecture in the presentation. A slide presentation is to be used as an outline to keep everyone on track, not as your teleprompter.

No matter how much you know about a topic, reading most of your presentation makes you look unprepared and certainly not an expert in your field.

A Slide Presentation Is Not a Book
This goes along with the prior point of having too much material in a slide presentation. You can’t simply take copy and paste from your book and try to make it into a slide show. The audience doesn’t come to a session to read a book on the screen … you have to summarize it for them. This means that you won’t be able to give them all of your knowledge in one hour, and you’ll need to cut out some things. If they want more, then maybe they’ll read your book.

No, You Don’t Have to Get Through Your Material
Whenever I hear a presenter say, “Please hold your questions until I get through my material", that is a major turn-off! Number one, it means that you have too much material (previous point); and secondly, it means that your slide presentation is for you and not your audience. How do you know when a presenter cares about the audience? It’s when you hear these words instead, “Does anyone have any questions BEFORE we move on?" I really don’t care if you a presenter gets through all of their material, and it’s certainly not the reason why I came to the conference.

I’ve Seen That Template Before
To make things worse at this conference, I saw the same blue PowerPoint template at every other session (you know the one I’m talking about!) Could you be anymore unimaginative? If you’re going to do this, take the time to learn how to create your own or have an expert do it for you. And try using a background color other than dark blue, it really is played out.

Oh No! Not Times New Roman!
If it were up to me, the Times New Roman font type would be outlawed in all slide presentations, websites, and anything that’s displayed on a screen. Nothing spells MEDIOCRE more than seeing Times New Roman. It’s boring. It’s old. It’s time to move on! Take the time to choose something more appealing.

I realize that this may hurt your pride a little bit; but just remember that it’s not about you, it’s about your audience. Just remember, “People don’t care much you know until they know how much you care".

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