Dave Paradi is the author of The Visual Slide Revolution and 102 Tips to Communicate More Effectively Using PowerPoint. He helps presenters communicate more effectively by using persuasive PowerPoint presentations. He has published over 200 issues of his bi-weekly newsletter, produced more than 45 slide makeover video podcasts and appears in media regularly. His web site is ThinkOutsideTheSlide. In this conversation, Dave discusses his new book.
Geetesh: Tell us more about your new book, 102 Tips to Communicate More Effectively Using PowerPoint.
Dave: The idea for the book came to me last summer when I was speaking at a conference in New Orleans. I noticed that many presenters were looking for quick tips that they could use to improve their presentations. They don’t have the time to attend a multi-day course and don’t want a thick technical manual. Participants in my workshops would tell me afterward that it was the tips that I shared that would make the biggest impact. So I decided to look at what I shared in my workshops and through my writing, and collect the tips that people found the most helpful. I focused on those tips that would help presenters communicate more effectively since that is what the goal of any presentation should really be – effective communication of our ideas. I’ve organized the tips into categories: Structure, Slide Design, Slide Content, Delivery, and Handouts. Each tip is practical and easy to apply so presenters can make immediate improvements to their presentations. I’ve set up a special web page for readers to download sample PowerPoint files that illustrate some of the tips. That web page also has links to all of the web sites I refer to in the book. There is virtually no overlap with my previous book “The Visual Slide Revolution”, which focuses on my five-step KWICK method for creating persuasive visuals. Presenters can benefit from both books to create more effective PowerPoint presentations.
Geetesh: If there’s just one thing I ask you to explain what PowerPoint designers can do to make their slides communicate better, what would that be?
Dave: My perspective has always been what works for audiences, and my advice would be to remember to focus on what the audience needs for this presentation. Too often I see elements added to slides for a pure design purpose. The element does not add to the audience’s understanding of the message. Prof. Mayer’s research tells us that anything we add to a visual that is not directly connected to our topic will cause confusion and reduce the understanding of the audience. I would remind designers to ask whether that gradient fill, the reflection of the photo, or the complex diagram created in a graphics program is being added to make the message clearer, or is it really being added because it is “cool.” As I say in my workshops, “clear” comes before “cool” in the dictionary and it should be the same when considering our slides. Seek to be clear first, instead of trying to be cool.