Every time I start work with a bio, pharma, or medtech company, from the CEO to the Head of Marketing, the decks are full of jargon, impenetrable tables and sentences so long you wonder if you'll still be breathing at the end.
Here are five easy tips to help you avoid annoying your audience or undermining your own role in your presentation, or committing the crime of Death by PowerPoint.
1. Make it visible. If you have to say, This is not going to be good for the people sitting at the back, you are not thinking about your audience. Make it bigger! Think in terms of minimum font size of between 28- 40.
2. Don't read off the screen. The eye is faster than the ear. If you are reading off the screen what everyone else can read, you just made yourself redundant.
3. Do not put full sentences on your screen. Do. Not. And then, Lord have mercy, do not read those sentences to me. (see 2. above) This is central to avoiding death by PowerPoint, commonly known as one of the leading causes of mass sleeping at conferences around the world.
3. Put your lap top on presenter mode so you can see the next screen coming up. This will help you bridge to the next slide before it us up on screen. That pause while the speaker looks at their own screen to remember what they need to say at the same time the audience sees it, is just deadly.
4. Does your graph look like a cat fought with string? Does it look like the string won? If your graph is too dense to read, simplify it for the essentials. If you have to present a great deal of data, color the key areas of your table. If it's a graph, build it up in layers for us so we can follow the multiple overlaid lines.
5. Have no call to action. Also, don't tell me the implications of what anything you talked. Who cares what it means? (We do! Tell us why your work/app/research means for your audience and why we should care.)
The potential list of tips is long but these five are key. Have mercy on your audience. Do the exact opposite of everything I wrote here and you won't bore your audience to death, you'll blow them away with your presentation power instead.