[image by HikingArtist.com, flickr artist](http://www.flickr.com/photos/hikingartist/)
image by HikingArtist.com, flickr artist

my first “5 reasons..” post seemed to be fairly popular, so — ever the entrepreneur — i figured i’d capitalize on that success with my second installment. this particular list takes a look at your presentations.

if you’re a consultant like me, you live in powerpoint. you may even begin speaking in bullets. you turn everything you touch into simple, easy to read, easy to understand outlines of information.. even when it’s probably better to choose some other form of communication.

hey! we all do it (don’t lie. just fess up already). the problem is that many of us were never given the proper training, or the education that we did get on giving presentations was a bad one. so i hope that you take a look at the reasons after the jump here and make the necessary adjustments for your next presentation.

reason #1: you use horrible colors

are you printing it?are you projecting it?is it being recorded on video camera? these are all important questions that you need to ask yourself. first and foremost, let me state that YELLOW should never, ever be used in a presentation. i said never! asking any of the three questions above, yellow fails in each and every circumstance. it doesn’t print well, it doesn’t project well, and it’s all but invisible on video.

the colors you pick should marry well together. powerpoint 2007 should help you out a bit as there are now palettes specific to themes, but at what cost? looking exactly like everyone else’s presentations — that’s the cost. and in a competitive business environment, it’s a cost that you just can’t afford to pay. be massive, be bold, be #1 — choose your own kuler scheme. learning a very little bit about color theory is going to go a long way in helping you create presentations that have an impact. as elvis put so perfectly in his song rubberneckin, “i like what i see, i see what i like.” people will naturally gravitate towards good looking things. it’s science!

reason #2: you choose horrible fonts

enough with times new roman. or “basta!” as we say in italian. next person whose presentation i see with times new roman in it is getting a pencil thrown at them. it’s visually offensive. it doesn’t project well, and it’s even worse if being recorded on video. find yourself a nice, clean, rounded, sans serif font. tahoma works perfectly well, and helvetica is for gentlemen. don’t like either one? find a font that you do like, and stick to it.don’t be a politician; no flip-flopping. any presentation that has more than 2 fonts is automatically purged from my mind.

reason #3: you throw words and statistics around like frisbees

basta! enough with the slides that have more words and statistics than white space. if you’re trying to provide detailed information on something, write a document. create a report of your statistics. that kind of stuff doesn’t belong in a presentation.

presentations are supposed to be about YOU. not about words, not about statistics. anything and everything that you put on a slide should have a specific purpose; if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t belong in your slide deck. you, the speaker, should be the focal point of the presentation. when you have tons of words and outrageous amounts of statistics cluttering up your slides people are too busy reading and processing the information to pay any attention to you. so have documents and reports prepared to hand out if necessary. but you need to focus on 2 things: (1) is this important to what i’m talking about? and (2) what’s the main point of it?

reason #4: you ramble

people rely on their slides far too much and they don’t trust in themselves and in their own knowledge of the topic — no matter how many times they’ve given the brief. when you have a collection of bullets on your slides, you’ve essentially made yourself a script. “i need to talk about this, this, and this, then go into talking about this other thing..”


you need to deliver a message. trust in yourself, and if you feel you’ve captured the message of the particular slide — move on. if you ever say in a presentation “as i just said,” or “as i mentioned a moment ago” in reference to something on the same slide, then you’ve made boo-boos. don’t rehash information that you’ve covered already unless it’s specifically there to drive home a point (and even this should be used in moderation). trust yourself — deliver the message — and take your bows. don’t ramble.

reason #5: you have no idea how much time you take

if you’re at a convention, or a camp, or a summit — or any of the various names that people give to large scale meetings with multiple speakers and multiple presentations — you only get a certain amount of time. the problem is, at many of the conventions that i’ve been to, people don’t know how long their presentations take. the worst thing possible is going over your expected time.

pro tip: just because you built the powerpoint doesn’t mean you know how to present it.

don’t make assumptions about how many slides it may take to present in the time given. know it. build your presentation, practice it, edit it, practice it, and edit it again until you get it right and within the time limit. it’s absolutely imperative that you practice your delivery. what words should you emphasize? what topics should you spend the most time on? does all of your media work? do your system demos work? what are your plans during loading times? what is your plan if your media/demo doesn’t work at all? these are all questions that you need to know before you step up to the podium.

yeah, your presentations suck. but don’t feel too bad, so do most others. but now you know that you can make your presentations better by fixing the mistakes above. heed my advice and stop the death by powerpoint.