“You get what you pay for.” That line is true for virtually ever situation. And it relates directly to presentations supported by visuals (whether they reside in Powerpoint or some other presentation program). Because, if you don’t spend the time making both your presentation and support materials highly effective, the cost to your company can be enormous.
There are some out there who believe that using support visuals can be absolutely deadly in the wrong hands. I agree. But equally tragic is the use of support materials that are either poorly thought-out or screens that are badly designed! Here’s an article by Edward Tufte, entitled “Powerpoint is Evil” (reprint from Wired Magazine) on just that subject. You’ll find it at http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.09/ppt2.html.
I give a speech on how to use Powerpoint properly (ie. – what to put on the screen and how to organize it to have the most impact and effectiveness). In the course of my work helping executives refine their presentations, I’ve pretty well seen it all – all the worst, that is!
In real terms, what really are the costs of a badly designed Powerpointa presentation? If you’ve never really thought about the cost in dollars, try doing this little test. Take a moment to calculate the cost of your meetings. Simply answer the four questions below. You may be surprised by the amount of company resources used during your group’s meetings.
Now, let’s consider the presenter. At the very least, putting support materials into a presentation program to present on a screen will take four hours – at the very least! If you’re designing it properly, it will take much longer. But, let’s use four hours in this example. And we’ll use the number of meetings from the example above.
So, if there are six meetings per week somewhere in your organization that use Powerpoint (or another presentation program) and each meeting required 4 hours of work to design the visual support, that’s a total of $738.46 on top of the cost of the meeting itself. In other words, bad presentations can cost any large organization over $75,000.00 per year MINIMUM!
Remember, these figures represent only one location within your organization. If you’re a national organization with several offices or a sales organization, imagine how much time and how many resources are invested in meetings company-wide…
SO what’s the solution? The solution, of course, is to properly design your visual support materials. To do that requires a number of specific steps that I simply don’t have the space to go into here. But you’ll find some pointers in other articles I’ve created. Here’s one of them: http://www.presenter-pro.com/eletternews/Graphics.htm.
There are other articles available in the Presenter-Pro site database. They’re all available for FREE by signing up for the newsletter and becoming a member. Once you’ve signed up and provided a username and password, you can access them by clicking on the “Member Signup” link next to my picture on the front page of the site.
You can also hire me for a one-hour talk (or less) that will give you scores of tips on how to make the visual support of your upcoming presentation more effective. If you’re interested, you can contact me at my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on that talk can be found at http://www.presenter-pro.com/Ppoint.php.
Or I can work on a consulting basis to help you with any aspect of your presentation or speech.
“Presenting to Win” is a great book that has lots of tips on how to structure your presentation and develop more effective visual support. You can find it at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0130464139/002-2364334-5810460?v=glance&n=283155.
Alternatives to Powerpoint
While Powerpoint is used in the vast majority of cases, there are alternatives. Here is an online list of what’s available for Mac and Windows as alternatives to Microsoft’s offering: http://microsoft.toddverbeek.com/present.html.