Posted by: reachdev | March 4, 2010

Managers – Don’t Ask for the “Deck”!

Along with many other professionals, I have noticed a disturbing trend toward voluminous PowerPoint decks by presenters of all stripes. This lends itself to presentations in which the projector never goes dark and the viewer is forced to watch slide after slide of bulleted text. The audience merely follows along as the notes are read to them, often with the “presenter” turning his or her head to look at the screen as they do so. This is, of course, a boring and tedious experience for the audience and has given rise to the term, “Death by PowerPoint”.

As I work with professionals they almost universally agree that this is a terrible way to present any topic and they affirm that they hate to do it or have it done to them. But they also tell me that they are often trapped into giving just such a presentation because as part of the review process, their managers expect to be given the presentation “deck”. What this indicates to the person preparing the presentation is that they must use PowerPoint (or another slide-based program) as the core of their finished product. This leads to slide heavy content which is more presenter’s notes than it is visually appealing.

What should we be doing instead? My advice would be to prepare your presentation in a written form on something like Word. When you come upon a concept for which you have an important and illuminating visual, create a slide for it. If the audience needs something to take with them, develop a hand-out based on your notes (including the visuals) and give it to them. Therefore, if managers would just ask for the “notes” instead of the “deck”, it would certainly be a step in the right direction!

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