PowerPoint and Presenting Stuff

Jon Stewart’s Right — Positioned on Purpose?: Guest Post by Jerry Weissman

No, not Jon Stewart’s right as in “correct;” and, given the liberal point of view of the host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, certainly not as in “right wing.” I’m referring to Jon Stewart’s right side where he shows the video clips of people and events he satirizes or mocks. Is this positioning arbitrary or intentional?

Because audiences in Western cultures read from left to right, you should design, animate, and display your presentation graphics so that—depending on the message you want to convey—your graphics follow or fight that predisposition. Movement to the right creates positive perceptions, movement to the left negative.

In Microsoft PowerPoint animation, the left and right movements occur in two general options: between slides (Slide Transition) and within a slide (Custom Animation). Although the direction of movement is the same in each option, each has a different nomenclature. Movement to the right in Slide Transition is called “Wipe Right;” movement to the right in Custom Animation is called “Wipe from Left.” Because your audiences’ eyes are accustomed to the left-to-right movement, make your default animation follow that same natural movement.

Movement to the left in Slide Transition is called “Wipe Left;” movement to the left in Custom Animation is called “Wipe from Right.” Use this counterintuitive effect when you want to send a negative message such as the shortcomings of competing products, past problems your company has conquered, or market forces that pose major obstacles for your industry.

Moreover, whenever you present, be sure that the screen on which you display your slide show—whether a large projection screen or a small laptop—is located to your left as you face your audience. This positioning creates the familiar left-to- right movement for your audience. Every time you click to a new slide, their eyes will travel from you to your words and images in a smooth, fluid movement. If you present with the screen to your right, every new slide will cause your audience to make a resistant move to the left that would force them to read your words backwards.

Jon Stewart positions the images of the targets of his humor to his right, forcing his audiences to move to the left—with friction—to see the images. Friction in the movement produces a fractious perception.

Is this positioning arbitrary or intentional? Is Jon Stewart sending us a message?

To use the words of one of his favorite targets, “You betcha’!”

Special Offer: Order Jerry Weissman’s new book, Presentations in Action, between May 20 and June 10 to receive a free copy of the In the Line of Fire: How to Handle Tough Questions DVD and 40% off another Weissman publication from FT Press.About Jerry Weissman:

Jerry Weissman is among the world’s foremost corporate presentations coaches. His private client list reads like a who’s who of the world’s best companies, including the top brass at Yahoo!, Intel, Intuit, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Netflix and many others.Jerry founded Power Presentations, Ltd. in 1988. One of his earliest efforts was the Cisco Systems IPO road show. Following its successful launch, Don Valentine, of Sequoia Capital, and then chairman of Cisco’s Board of Directors, attributed “at least two to three dollars” of the offering price to Jerry’s coaching. That endorsement led to more than 500 other IPO road show presentations that have raised hundreds of billions of dollars in the stock market.Categories: guest_post, powerpoint

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