Start at The End, Then Work Your Way Back

Death by PowerPoint
One of the most overused memes when it comes to slide deck presentations is Death by Powerpoint. I am sure that it’s just a matter of time before someone trends Killed by Keynote or Pummelled by Prezi.

The thing is this, it’s not so much that the slide decks are bad, it’s that somewhere along the line the message was lost.
Trust me when I tell you this weekend I saw some horrendous slide decks at a seminar for professional speakers. Bullet point overkill, reading from slides, logo’d to death. If I am honest only one of the presentations I saw had great design in terms of animation, font size, placing, headlines and this was given by a dude who charges $12,000 a day to write and design presentations for the leading seminar marketers.

Even though most of the slide decks were bad all could be forgiven because the individuals gave absolutely great content. When your eyes were averted away from the big screens at the back they demonstrated some killer storytelling techniques to demonstrate how they identified the pain of customers and how their products and services could alleviate that pain. The evidence was the amount of people who walked (and sometimes ran) to the back of the room to purchase their product.

For the record the most crowded rush to the back table was by the the guy who had the slickest presentation and story.

That said it made me think of a few things that I advise when people are using slide decks to either pitch, tell a story, inform or communicate what ever idea they have.

1. Before you fire up a slide deck (PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi) get a piece of paper and pen first.
2. Write down why this presentation is important to your audience and ultimately why it is important to you.
3. Design the MAS, or Massive Action Slide. The one that will give your audience a call to action. The one that gives hope, or a warning or stresses the urgency of the matter at hand.
4. Think about effective slide presentations you had seen before.
5. Work your way backwards and imagine if you only had 12 slides you could use. Start at number 12 and work back to one.
6. Think of your slides as compliment instead of a crutch.
7. Now open your slide deck and if you really and truly know that you are not the best at designing it, get someone who works with you who does know how to, or give me a shout.