The 5 Secrets of Crafting a Horrible PowerPoint Presentation
By Shanna Mallon on April 23, 2012
Sure, it seems easy to create the kind of horrible PowerPoint presentation that puts your audience to sleep when your topic is already a yawner---but is it only the subject matter that’s to blame?
When you’re speaking on a topic that your audience already has an interest in, is it still possible to annoy listeners and make them want to throw tomatoes at you?
The truth is, yes: because while it might not be easy to make an interesting topic dull, it’s always possible, especially through the PowerPoint strategies we’ve outlined below. Take advantage of these top five secrets, and you’re guaranteed to have your listeners running for the door, no matter what you’re talking about.
- Rely Too Heavily on PowerPoint. There’s nothing like going into a presentation dependent on just your PowerPoint slides alone: don’t bring cue cards, don’t offer handouts, have nothing else to share beyond exactly what’s written on the slides. This way, all you have to do is read aloud, in monotone if you like, what the slides say, and you can be sure your audience will be snoozing by the time you’re done. Plus, as an added bonus, when all you have is your PowerPoint presentation, then if technical difficulties prevent it from being shown, there’s nothing left for you to do but take a seat.
- Cram the Slides with Text. Rather than using the slides as cues for your presentation, fill each one with as much text as possible, jotting down every single thing you want to say. Don’t be afraid to use small fonts in order to pack in all the info, and if the audience can’t read what you’ve written—no worries: without visual aids, they’ll be even more likely to zone out.
- Muddy Your Message with Design. There are hundreds of small design decisions that can complicate your message and make it near impossible for your audience to listen to what you’re saying: decorate your slides with busy backgrounds that make it hard to distinguish text, choose blinding color schemes that look unprofessional and pick highly decorative fonts that are hard to read and make sense of. Listeners will eventually give up on discerning a point and tune out what you’re saying.
- Choose Cheesy Pictures—or No Pictures. Don’t amplify your slides with professional stock images. Rather, fill your slides with cheesy, unrelated, unprofessional pictures that don’t complement your topic or tone—or, better yet, skip the pictures altogether in order to fit in more text. This way, your listeners will have little to look at and more of a chance to daydream their way into ignoring your presentation completely.
- Go Overboard with Slides. Rather than communicating your message in 10 to 12 simple slides, pack your presentation with as much info as possible, almost like a vacation pictures “show and tell.” Make all the slides similar and monotonous, and go through them slowly, so you’ll be sure to lull your audience right off to sleep.
What do you think? Are there other secrets to making a PowerPoint presentation truly terrible? What other sleep-inducing tactics have you had to suffer through?
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