What Annoys Audiences About PowerPoint Presentations?

When you prepare to deliver your next PowerPoint presentation, your audience should be first on your list of considerations. Unfortunately, too many presenters annoy their audiences. An online survey of 688 people who regularly see PowerPoint presentations revealed the following top annoyances (item and what percentage of the respondents cited that item as one of their top three annoyances):

The speaker read the slides to us 62.0%

Text so small I couldn’t read it 46.9%

Slides hard to see because of color choice 42.6%

Full sentences instead of bullet points 39.1%

Moving/flying text or graphics 24.8%

Overly complex diagrams or charts 22.2%

The top four annoying mistakes are the same as a similar survey done in 2003, suggesting that presenters are not getting much better at presenting clear information in an appealing manner.

The survey also asked for written comments in addition to the ranking and 415 people wrote in with additional ideas. The comments covered a wide range, but most common were three areas:

1. Delivery of PowerPoint Presentations

Many audience members wrote to comment on how the delivery of the PowerPoint presentation was a big problem. The areas of greatest concern were:

a) The use of PowerPoint when another communication method would have been better. Too many times it seems that PowerPoint is the default communication method and people have forgotten that a simple memo or one-on-one conversation would be much better.

b) The presenter is not familiar with how to deliver the presentation using the equipment. Comments cited the lack of knowledge of many presenters on how to smoothly start a presentation and keep the flow going during the presentation when using PowerPoint.

c) The presenter is not prepared to add to what the slides say. This seems to be caused by the presenter not knowing the topic well enough, or the mistaken use of PowerPoint as a teleprompter where the speech is read to the audience (echoing the top annoyance in the ranking).

2. Poor Slide Design

Even when the presenter is prepared and knowledgeable, poor design of the slides causes confusion among audience members. They focused on these areas as the ones of most concern:

a) Poor selection of colors and fonts make the slides hard to see. While a computer has the ability to produce millions of colors and hundreds of fonts, not all of them should be used together. Colors must have enough contrast to be seen and fonts need to be clear and simple in order to be read when projected. If the audience can’t figure out what is being projected, the visuals are of no use.

b) Misuse of the Slide Master and Slide Layout leads to inconsistent appearance of slides during the presentation. Audiences are looking for consistency during the presentation in the look and basic layout of the slides. This makes it easier to follow the presentation. Too often they are guessing as to what the next slide will look like and forced to search on every slide for the relevant ideas.

c) Backgrounds should be clean and not distracting. Audiences find backgrounds that contain numerous graphics, symbols and text distract from the information that is supposed to be central to the slide. They also commented on how stark black on white slides are too bright and need some simple color and design to make them appealing.

3. Overuse of PowerPoint’s features

Each version of PowerPoint seems to contain more and more features designed to make it easier to add flashy graphics, animation and multimedia to presentations. And too many presenters think that just because the feature is there, they should be using it. Audiences were clear that use of animation to entertain instead of inform or adding multimedia audio or video segments to show off the presenters talents were unnecessary and certainly took away from the message being presented.

Millions of Dollars Wasted on Annoying Audiences Each Year
The respondents to the survey were also asked how many presentations they see and how prevalent these annoying mistakes were.. Just over half of the respondents (54%) see 100 or more presentations per year, making them well qualified to identify how often these problems occur. And the news from this group of frequent presentation audience members is not good. One third of this group said that more than half of the presentations they see suffer from these annoying items and another third of this group said at least one in four presentations have annoying elements. This suggests that a significant percentage of the estimated 30 million PowerPoint presentations done each day fall in to the annoying category. An annoying presentation wastes the time of the people attending and causes enormous rework as ideas are not clearly communicated. This wasted time adds up to tens of millions of dollars each year. And this is money that can be saved by creating and delivering better PowerPoint presentations.

What Can Be Done?

Presenters need to focus on three things that will help them communicate more clearly when using PowerPoint:

1. Prepare a simple slide design with contrasting colors and clear fonts. Use a similar layout for each slide so that the presentation is consistent in appearance for the audience.

2. Simplify the content of your slides. Use less text, more graphics and try to do less on each slide. Keep the slides focused and the audience will be able to follow your message much better.

3. Prepare yourself for the presentation. Learn how to use the equipment and know your subject well enough that you presentation becomes a conversation with the audience instead of reciting a speech.

If you keep the audience as the central focus of your presentation, with a goal to clearly communicate with them, you can greatly improve your PowerPoint presentations.

Hidden Needs Drive Sales Negotiations

All sales negotiations are driven by both public and private needs. If you can understand and deal with the other side’s hidden needs, then you’ll have more power during the negotiation.

It’s What Lies Below The Surface That Really Matters
When we enter into a sales negotiation, we like to kid ourselves that we know what the other side is looking to get out of the negotiation. At least on the surface, all sales negotiations look the same.

The easy-to-see desires of the other side generally come down to one of three things: money, goods, and / or services. This is what we can see and this is what we spend our time preparing to negotiate. However, that’s really only part of the story.

Knowledge Of Hidden Needs Boosts Your Power
I’m sure that you’re probably already agreeing with me that knowing the other side of the table’s hidden needs would be advantageous when you are getting ready to negotiate. However, did you know that this knowledge will increase your negotiating power?

Remember that power in a sales negotiation is a difficult thing to nail down. However, the more that you know about the other side and their hidden needs, then the more negotiating power you’ll have.

The Search For Hidden Needs
If we can all agree that identifying the other side’s hidden needs is a good thing, than all that is left for us to talk about is just exactly HOW you can go about doing that. The key is to have a good set of questions.

These are the questions that you need to ask yourself BEFORE you enter into a sales negotiation. Not every question will pertain to this specific negotiation and your list will evolve over time. Here’s a good set of questions for you to start asking yourself:

  • Do they want to make their lives easier?
  • Do they want to appear to be competent?
  • Do they want peace of mind?
  • Do they want to be listened to?
  • Do they want freedom of choice?
  • Do they want to keep their job?
  • Do they want recognition?
  • Do they want to be liked?

Final Thoughts
As you enter into a sales negotiation, you need to realize that the other side of the table probably has more hidden needs than they have publicly known needs. What this means for you is that the other side of the table won’t say “yes” to your requests until after at least some of their hidden wants have been fulfilled.

In the end, all negotiating is about making sure that you have enough power to be successful. One of the most important keys is to realize that we need to also address the other side of the table’s hidden needs in order reach an agreement that both sides can live with.

If you can learn to spot these hidden needs before you enter into your next negotiation, then you will be able to close better deals and close them quicker.

Presentation Skills

Most of us hate any form of public speaking. We’d much rather sit in the background and not having any attention focused on us.

Unfortunately, at some stage in our working careers each one of us will be required to either sell an idea; make a recommendation; market our work or ourselves or market a product. In such an instance you would have no other choice but to bite the bullet and stand before an audience to present your case.

Do not stress it is not that difficult. It only requires a few skills which are easy to master. When you are required to do a presentation, do it well and use it as an opportunity to get noticed – it could well be the key to a successful career!

Start at the very beginning and plan well ahead for the big moment. The starting point is your expected audience. What will my audience know about the topic; what are their needs and what do they want to hear. Your approach would be different when you have to do a presentation on a new medical invention to a conference of medical practitioners compared to addressing a group of housewives on the same topic. Always try to put yourself in your audience’s shoes before starting to prepare your address.

With any presentation, there must be an envisaged outcome. Why are you doing the presentation? Is it to inform, persuade, motivate or teach? When you clarify your purpose, you will more easily hit your target.

Once you know what you want to achieve, you can start with the preparation:

Prepare the opening: Make a statement or ask a question that grabs the audience’s attention. State the purpose of your presentation and remember the opening should make up 5 to 10% of your entire presentation.

Prepare the structure: The presentation should have a logical flow:

  • Opening
  • Background information
  • Body of the presentation
  • Action steps – what next or what is required
  • Close

Choosing Key points: Your audience can only remember 4 to 6 key points, so choose them carefully. Back your message up with interesting evidence – statistics, testimonials, analogies and demonstrations. The key points should make up 80 to 85% of the entire presentation.

Prepare the Duration: Don’t make the presentation to long. Rehearse the duration of your presentation to make sure it falls within your time limits. Always allow time for questions – it is appropriate.

Prepare your closing: Prepare a close that supports your purpose and creates a lasting impression. Only briefly summarize or restate your key points and throw a challenge to your audience. Leave your audience with something to think about. The closing should make up 5 to 10 % of the entire presentation.

Prepare effective visual support:

  • When using slides, it must be visually appealing
  • Use colors and fonts that make an impact
  • Select graphics carefully – they must support the subject matter
  • Use effective but not irritating animation
  • When using a whiteboard or flip-chart, write quickly and neatly.

Speaker notes: Never read your slides – this is very boring. Only have the bare outline on the slides and fill the rest of the detail verbally. You can make use of speaker notes on the slides to ensure that you know what you want to say and not forgetting anything.

Rehearse: First practice your presentation on your own in front of a mirror then follow it up in front of a friend or colleague. They must give you feedback on the content and style of your presentation.

Lastly, after everything is said and done, it is time to put your money where your mouth is:

  • Be well prepared
  • Know your subject
  • Be exited
  • Act confidently
  • Dress smartly
  • Speak clearly
  • Make eye contact
  • Focus on the main points
  • Be yourself

Remember, when you are marketing your product, system, idea, or whatever, you are marketing yourself in the process!