Creating Powerful PowerPoints: A hands-on workshop

Recently a client attended an industry event where Dan Yaman spoke on how PowerPoints are usually used at events in ways that are counter-intuitive to learning.

The client challenged us: Is there any way to use PowerPoint WELL?

The answer is yes. PowerPoint has gotten a bad rap from many years of ill-use and abuse. It's a stalwart tool, but it's taken a beating in the popular event culture. PowerPoint is evil. PowerPoint is how you kill learning. Death comes by PowerPoint!

Not exactly. PowerPoint is a GREAT tool. IF you know how to use it.

In our workshop, the goals were this:
• To show, generally, what kind of information presentation the brain responds to.
• To show, generally, what the brain does NOT respond to.
• To give best practices.
• To correct worst practices.
• To give participants hands-on experience in editing their own slides.

Here is a broad-brush overview of the brain:

The brain responds to:
5-7 minute segments

The brain does not respond to:
Visual clutter
Confusing data
Excessive words on a slide
Irrelevant material/words/content
Typical PowerPoint presentations

So how did we go about showing the participants of the workshop how to create powerful PowerPoints? By giving them a hands-on experience with a deck. We printed out large PPT slides on paper--real slides that we had been given by a client.

The first step: Look at one slide and discern the main message points.

Second step: Remove excess words/data/clutter.

Third step: Think of a way to portray the same data on clearer, cleaner slides.

What happened was that most people came up with 3-4 clean, visually impactful slides in place of one cluttered slide. There was much tittering and taboo-whispering; for these participants had long been taught that they could only have X slides per deck--no matter how much information they had.

A 90-minute workshop wasn't enough to completely and permanently change bad PowerPoint habits, but it was a good start toward the fundamentals of Brain-Based PPT design.
See Older Posts...