Dave Paradi has been recognized by the media and his clients as a presentation expert. He has authored eight books and four Kindle e-books on effective PowerPoint presentations. He consults on high-stakes presentations including one used to brief one of President Obama’s cabinet ministers. Dave is one of only fourteen people in North America to be recognized by Microsoft with the PowerPoint Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the PowerPoint presentation community. His ideas have appeared in publications around the world.
In this conversation, Dave discusses his new 2015 Annoying PowerPoint Survey.
Geetesh: Dave, you have been carrying out your acknowledged surveys on what annoys audiences every 2 years now. How long have you been doing these surveys, and how do these results help us create and deliver better presentations?
Dave: I started the surveys in 2003, so this is the seventh survey I have done. The reason I keep doing the surveys is that they show important trends that all presenters need to be aware of. Some of the things that audiences find annoying haven’t changed in the past surveys. For example, according to the past surveys, presenters can stand out by simply not reading their slides and not putting unreadable small text on slides. These aren’t hard to do, but the surveys indicate that these are still issues in so many presentations. The surveys have also shown how much more reliant organizations have become on communicating through presentations and how audience’s expectations have changed over the past ten years.
Presentations are becoming the key way that professionals communicate in organizations, so getting better is important to one’s career. With the latest survey, we will see how the trends have changed and what that suggests for presenters. Readers can complete this year’s survey (it only takes a few minutes). This year’s survey will close at midnight on Thursday, September 24 and the results will be published about a week after that. I’ll be providing the results to Indezine so you can share them with your readers.
Geetesh: How many people responded to the survey two years ago and why is it important that people fill out this year’s survey?
Dave: Over 680 people responded to the survey in 2013 and I am hoping that we can reach that many responses this time as well. The reason it is important to have many people complete the survey is that it is one of the only ways that presenters can hear what audiences are truly thinking. After a presentation, it would be rare to have someone give you honest feedback that you might not take well. They don’t want to hurt your feelings by telling you what they really thought. You may never get the feedback that will truly change your habits and make you a great presenter. This survey allows audience members to anonymously tell me what they really think. I get many strongly worded comments on the survey — ones that people would not be comfortable saying out loud. This means that as presenters, we get that brutally honest feedback that helps us improve. By seeing the true thoughts of the audience and seeing the trends over time, we can develop improvement plans for our presentations so that we can become the best presenter we can be. Let your colleagues, friends, and social media contacts know about the survey and ask them to complete it so all presenters can improve.