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What Would the Gettysburg Address Look Like in PowerPoint?

By Joey Asher

Category: Visual Aid

“Hi. I’m Abe Lincoln. My first slide lays out a timeline for our nation. As you can see reading from left to right, it really all started four score and seven years ago. . . .”

Of course that wouldn’t have done at all. But if there is any doubt that there is a growing backlash against PowerPoint, you need only look at the proliferation of PowerPoint spoofs on the Internet. A funny one is Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

There’s even a political party in Switzerland dedicated to reducing the number of lousy PowerPoint presentations. It’s called the Anti-PowerPoint Party.

For the record, Speechworks is not Anti-PowerPoint. And we’re not members of the Anti-PowerPoint Party. Visual aids can help your presentation have more impact. But PowerPoint is overused and misused.

There is almost always an inverse relationship between the quality of the presentation and the number of PowerPoint slides.

We recently worked with a large Atlanta company that banned PowerPoint from its national sales meeting. And the meeting went great!

Here are a few tips to ensure that your PowerPoint doesn’t ruin your presentation:

  • You are the most important visual aid. Don’t use slides that take too much attention away from you. 
  • Use fewer slides. For a 30-minute presentation, keep it to eight slides. 
  • Don’t murder your audience with bullets. If you’re going to have text in your slides, then keep the bullets to a minimum. No one is going to read it all or remember it anyway. 
  • Pictures have impact. The best slides show photographs that the audience can quickly grasp.
  • Complex slides are usually terrible. Too often we see complicated diagrams of business processes that would only make sense if the audience had a lot of time to digest the slide. But usually, these slides are up and gone in seconds.  If you have a complex slide, give it the time it deserves or dump it.
  • Don’t read your slides. If you’re going to read to the audience, hand out the slides and let them read it themselves. You’ll save everyone’s time. 

Speechworks is a communication and selling skills coaching firm. We teach professionals how to craft and deliver complex messages in a simple, persuasive manner. Since 1986, through workshops and one-on-one instruction, we have helped countless individuals become better presenters and communicators. You can reach us at 404.266.0888, speech@speechworks.net or on the web at www.speechworks.net

Joey Asher

Joey is the President of Speechworks, a communication and selling skills coaching firm. He has worked with thousands of professionals, helping them learn to communicate in a way that connects with clients and audiences. He is also the author of four books on communication skills: “15 Minutes Including Q&A: a Plan to Save the World from Lousy Presentations,” “How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals That Will Distinguish You from the Competition,” “Selling and Communication Skills for Lawyers,” and “Even A Geek Can Speak.” He can be reached at 404-266-0888 or joey@speechworks.net.