5 ways to avoid Death by PowerPoint

March, 6 2013

Investor Relations (IR) professionals tell me their biggest challenge with presentations is keeping the amount of information to a minimum. By the time the project has been vetted by the CEO, CFO, COO, geologist, lawyer or whoever else gets to contribute, the slides can overflow with details that greatly bog down a presentation.

Everyone has seen the compelling TED talks online with their beautifully simple slides, yet no IR person I know believes such a format would work for their company. Why? Because there’s just too much industry information that has to be included with investment presentations.

Is there a solution? Well, maybe you can’t give a TED talk. But you can give one that resonates better with your audience. Here are five ways to simplify your presentation, sharpen its focus and make it more compelling.

1) Remember—Your Presentation is Not For You

Remind everyone that that the presentation is not for you or your company. It’s for your audience. Respect them. Don’t bore them, confuse them, or waste their time.

2) Less is More

Try to present only one idea per slide. Ideally, use only one sentence or phrase with as few words as possible. Avoid bullet points wherever possible.

3) Defy the Master (Pages)

Master pages are useful for maintaining consistency, but don’t be afraid to defy them. For example, reinforce a key point by putting a few words in big type over a solid background (or photo) that fills the slide. This format has far more impact than bullet points.

4) Use Graphics

Charts, graphs and diagrams all convey info more effectively than a lot of words. But the reader’s eye should go immediately to the most important information. Highlights and arrows can make difference between an “Aha!” and a “Huh?”

5) Fonts—the 66% Rule

When it comes to font size, bigger is usually better. Put your PowerPoint file into sorter view. Look at the slides at 66 percent of actual size. If you can’t read the words, there’s a good chance your audience can’t read them either.

If you take only one of these points with you, make it the first. With any presentation you create, the most important thing you can do is put yourself in the audience’s shoes. They’ll remember you for it.


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Terry Dove

Writer Terry Dove, writer. Terry is an industry veteran with nearly three decades of writing and communications experience, particularly for the resource and investment sectors. With a Canadian Securities Course designation, a B.Sc in marketing and MFA in creative writing, he brings a unique blend of education, skills and experience to our team. Before joining Red Rocket, he owned and operated Dove Communications Inc. (2000-2012) and Rainier Communications Inc. (1990-2000).