The purpose for PowerPoints has been lost on many financial professionals because of those presenters’ own shortcomings at presenting. For many that do presentations wrong, the idea of putting together a long deck of beautiful slides that are extremely wordy automatically makes them think the presentation will be well received. The amount of time preparing for what is really important— practicing the words you use and how you use them—has gone by the wayside.
In a people business, where people want to connect with people, this is the wrong way of presenting yourself. Creating PowerPoint slides should be secondary and should take you only a fraction of the amount of time that it takes you to think through and rehearse the delivery of your words to the audience. If you have this backward, you are simply choosing your priorities and needs over those of the audience. There is no way that even a powerful PowerPoint could ever offset shortcomings in the presenter’s word and concept delivery.
Here are five quick tips for financial professionals using PowerPoint slides so you do not fall victim to the traps outlined above.
- Less is Better. I believe if you are going to use PowerPoint slides, there should be no more than one slide for every two minutes of speaking you do.
- Know Your Transitions. Having smooth transitions makes the presentation one cohesive message, as opposed to starting and stopping 30 times which is equivalent to Ambien.
- Never read the PowerPoint slides verbatim. PowerPoint content should be merely bullet points or pictorials to tee up a much broader conversation. Paragraphs in PowerPoint are deadly to a presentation. PowerPoints are points—with you elaborating on them verbally.
- Favor Stage Right. Of course, stage right is on the left-hand side for the audience. So as you speak on the left-hand side of the projector screen, from the observer’s standpoint it is subconsciously more natural. The audience is able to look at you on their left and then to the right to the PowerPoint.
- Learn and Rehearse Stories and Jokes. As I am pulling everything back up after a crash, I will tell a story or a joke in order to fill what otherwise would be an awkward silence. When you do this, you are showing that you are in control, not panicked, and have been there and done this before.
The problem with this wonderful technology is that it has made our lives so much easier, that it is easy to rely on this tool too much while cannibalizing the important stuff—delivery. And good delivery is hard because it takes a ton of elbow grease. A good presentation takes work—not more slides!
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