Geetesh: Do you do PowerPoint training classes? What problems do you address in your class?
Claudyne: Well, yes and no. I call my classes Creating PowerPoint Presentations That Get Your Point Across. Showing them PowerPoint hints they don’t know is just one part of the class. This may be only about 2 hours of the whole class. The first exercise has nothing to do with PowerPoint. Participants write up objectives, goals, themes, key messages for the presentation they brought. Then they analyze that presentation based on the goals and objectives. So many times people realize that the presentation they created will not help them achieve their objectives and goals.
For example, a woman’s department had redone the company website and she had created a presentation to encourage people to use it. But the presentation was all about the work they had done, very boring to listen, not to mention slides with words no one understood. She had to redo her whole presentation focused on her objective and the key messages she wanted to get across.
This exercise encourages people to write first their messages and how they want the audience to react. Then they can think about creating slides.
I also show people how to logically organize their content using the formats in my CD Presentations in a Hurry: 26 Formats That Persuade. When people are asked about their experience of most PowerPoint presentations, they will usually say that the presentations are not logically organized. They can’t follow the presenter. They feel the presenter has just written down everything he or she knows on different slides…without considering a structure to organize the content. I teach people that if they are selling, they need to organize information different than if they are presenting a strategy recommendation.
We lay out all the slides on tables and the floor and people look at their organization. I have checklists we go through. Most often, once a person sees on his or her slides on the table, a realization hits that there really is no organization. Maybe opening, background, results and next steps organize the talk, but within that, the content is just one sentence after another. There’s no order.
People get very excited when they begin to see that by re-organizing and/or redoing their content, they can be better presenters. They can emphasize certain words. They can slow down and speed up when mentioning key points. They can include stories as they have cut out the unnecessary content.
Geetesh: What do typical attendees take back with them — emotionally, learning-wise, and physically.
Claudyne: Many people do not understand how to use the slide master. Once they realize they should not make text boxes all over their slides, they get very excited. They begin to realize they will save hours of time as well as have more professional looking slides.
Also, very few people know about custom shows. A custom show is one of the best features in PowerPoint. A presenter can have many versions of the same presentation in one file. This works very well for people who have a high level talk of only 6 slides and then more details with 12 slides. They can have all this in one talk.
I ask everyone to make a one slide executive summary of his or her talk. I give them slide designs to use. At first, everyone is confused. They just want to keep listing data for slide after slide. I tell them that many executives want a one-slide summary and after that may be more open to listening to details. Sometimes we only make the executive summaries and sometimes people read them out loud. The power of hearing a presentation summarized on one slide is wonderful. People get how impactful it is to really summarize a talk.
And here are some typical comments about the class: “ Thank you for the before and after examples of our company presentations. I can use them. I’m going to save hours of time creating my presentations in the future. I may even have time to practice out loud.”