PowerPoint and Presenting Stuff

But I’m not an artist!: by Jerry Weissman

In my constant effort as a coach to persuade business people to remember that a picture is worth a thousand words and to avoid the dreaded “Presentation-as-Document Syndrome,” presenters often protest, “But I’m not an artist!”

Cast adrift from their familiar text slides, presenters are reluctant to try alternatives. However, you don’t have to go out and buy a painter’s smock and beret to break the mold of an endless parade of boring bullet slides.

Begin with overarching concept that the primary—and sole—purpose of your PowerPoint is to illustrate your narrative. Remember my often-repeated (because it still hasn’t taken hold) recommendation that your business slideshow should follow the example of television news broadcasts: the anchorperson tells the story and the graphics serve as a headline that captures the essence of the story.

Then design your presentation headlines as “infographics” or “data visualizations.” Visual.ly, the world’s largest community for sharing infographics, defines these terms as follows:

…Infographics are images created to explain a particular idea or dataset. They often contain beautiful graphics to increase their appeal and help catch your attention. Many of them use data visualization.

Data visualizations represent numerical data in a visual format. They can be anything from a simple bar chart to a complex three dimensional CAT Scan representation.

But go beyond the usual charts and venture into more vivid images to communicate and illustrate your story. You have at your disposal a number of resources to convert text into images, and to inspire your thinking visually:

Be aware, however, that many of the images on these sites may require payment for high resolution copies and/or royalties. Below is a list of ten websites where you can find free or low cost images.

Now, with your palette of four different options—Google/Bing, Free Images, Visual.ly, and Microsoft PowerPoint—are you ready for your artist’s smock and beret?

This blog post is an excerpt from Jerry Weissman’s new book, just published by Pearson, Winning Strategies for Power Presentations; it is one of 75 lessons from the world’s best presenters, and available now from Amazon.

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, opinion

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