Thursday, August 21, 2008

Successful Powerpoints - Blurb Your Enthusiasm

In An A.D.D. World, Make Your Message Short, Sweet, and Memorable

By David Miranda

Our collective attention spans have dramatically shortened over the years and it continues to shrink. We suffer from an A.D.D. pandemic - we scan, browse, peruse, channel surf television channels, radio stations, newspapers, internet sites, magazine articles, outdoor signs, emails, voice mails, brochures, direct mail, trade show booths, business data, executive summaries - and yes, powerpoints. This is a direct result of a confluence of factors including time poverty and compression, uber-content and distribution channels, and multi-tasking.

Despite the marketplace A.D.D., many marketers feel compelled to develop painfully long and arduous powerpoint presentations that defy logic. The result? Audiences turn off and tune out long before the point is made.

In this A.D.D. world, presenters, literally, have seconds to get someone's attention and minutes to compel an audience to listen further before they mentally turn off. This said, presenters continue to make mistakes. Here are some helpful do's and don'ts for a successful powerpoint presentation - how to "blurb your enthusiasm" in the time allotted.


  • keep the powerpoint to 10 slides or less

  • have a theme

  • utilize an eye-pleasing and readable color pallette and font type/size for the presentation one that is printable in black&white as well as colr since many people like to print out presentations.

  • have a compelling title slide, i.e. a compelling title of what are you talking about and why they should listen; your name, title, and affiliation; and the date.

  • have an agenda slide which lets the audience know what to expect and in what order, i.e. history, the current landscape, trends, the business implications, the solutions, summary, contact info. In other words "tell them what you are going to tell them; then tell them; and then summarize what you told them."

  • make each slide easy to quickly peruse - utilize simple graphics when appropriate; keep copy short and sweet, use memorable "sound bites".

  • provide sources/attibutions for third party data.

  • leave time for Q&A either during of after the presentations.


  • utilize unnecessary hyperbole, self-engrandizement (greatest, best, exciting, etc.),or unsubstantiated claims.

  • use too much industry lingo. People should not need a glossary.

  • use complex charts and graphs with lots of data points, particularly on one slide.

  • employ unnecessary animation or slide "builds". It can be distracting and counter-productive.

  • "dis" the competition to make yourself look better. It generally backfires.

  • have too many bullet points on a slide

In summary, to deal with an A.D.D. audience, blurb your enthusiasm in your powerpoint.