Have you ever seen a high level executive give a presentation to the entire company or conference audience using really bad (average) slides? Most people have either witnessed it or been guilty of it. Even though it can be easy to fix, it is unfortunately still the norm.
A friend of mine recently shared a story with me about just this scenario. His CEO gave a presentation to the entire company using poor slides. They were chock-full of bulleted sentences, each one read out loud personally by the Chief Executive Officer himself. The reaction from the audience was of course one of sheer boredom, which is never the intended reaction. If you've ever been guilty of presenting this way, you're in good company.
The sad truth is that this is still quite common.
But how does this happen to the top dog? The answer is simple.
How do executives miss the mark?
When an executive speaks to the masses, you can be sure that they fully understand the importance of their message to the company, and they fully want and intent for that message to have an influence. They also are the very people with the resources available to make sure that happens. So how can they miss the mark as badly as anyone when it comes to their slides?
There is only one possible reason. And it’s the same reason why every other person on the planet who presents with poorly designed slides does it:
They simply have no idea how important their presentation slides really are!
If they did, they wouldn’t miss the mark.
Now I’m not saying having slides for a presentation is a requirement. I’ve seen great presentations without them. But for most of us, we need them and use them. And when we do use them, they become very important!
So why is having great presentations slides so important?
Because they support everything you are trying to accomplish during your presentation. If you are presenting, you are trying to either inform, persuade, motivate, or entertain your audience; likely a combination of these. Poor slides don't support these objectives, in fact, they actually reek havoc on your ability to achieve them!
Here are my five reasons why your presentation slides really matter:
1. They help you make your point!
They do this by condensing your message into a brief micro-summary of the point you’re making during a particular slide. Poor slides can complicate things, and leave the audience confused, overwhelmed, or turned off. Great slides help you emphasize key points, graphically depict information, and they also provide the opportunity to incorporate engaging visuals that can make a huge impact on your impact.
2. They help you present more easily!
They do this by helping you remember your key points. Poorly designed slides can overwhelm you when you glance at them. They can actually cause you to get lost in your own content, forget what you were going to say and cause you to sometimes end up reading the slides as if they were a teleprompter (one your audience can also read). When the key point of your message is effectively depicted on screen, it jogs your memory of what you were going to say while allowing you to speak more naturally.
3. They help you feel confident and reduce your anxiety!
The very process of creating great presentation slides helps prepare you for the presentation, which is a major part of reducing anxiety and boosting confidence. Well-designed slides are comforting, familiar visual cues that can easily keep you or get you back on track. Also, knowing you have great slide enhances your confidence that your audience will appreciate your presentation, rather than count the minutes until it’s over. There is nothing worse for speaking anxiety than looking out at a bored audience; great slides help prevent that!
4. They help you engage the audience so they can enjoy the presentation!
Since an effective slide is a visual aid and helps sum up your message, it helps the audience follow your message, keeps it organized in their head, and gives them eye candy. Eye candy is not just a luxury, it’s an important component to keeping their attention and making an impact on them. Neither you nor your audience can enjoy any presentation unless they are engaged; great slides can make engaging your audience much easier.
5. They help increase your ability to influence!
This is where the “Power" connects with the “Point.” Great slides can help give you the power to influence by:
- Increasing your credibility through a superior, professional quality presentation
- Keeping your audience engaged enough to actually hear your point
- Producing an emotional reaction through effective visuals
- Helping you gain rapport with the audience
It’s much easier to connect with your audience when you provide them with audience-considerate slides; visuals that are interesting, helpful, and well-designed. Poor slides that bore your audience damage your connection with them. Great slides can make their experience as a member of the audience more enjoyable; they’ll appreciate you for that and let you influence them.
I hope something in these five reasons prompts you to start or continue to give your presentation slides more than a casual consideration. They absolutely matter!
(Shameless plug here...) My online course, Power in your Point, teaches the concepts, principles, and a system to make creating impressive presentations and training with slides easier. You can learn more about it here. I love helping people make their presentations easier. Check it out.
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