How to Write Powerful PowerPoint Presentations or What Was I Thinking?

You have a lot to present and you want your slides to be well written. You believe that sentences should be well constructed and points must be powerful. What’s more, you want the entire script on your slides for one of the following reasons:

  • you don’t want to forget anything
  • you need it all to keep you on track
  • your audience needs to see everything so they’ll understand everything and be impressed
  • your audience expects it
  • your manager wants it
  • you don’t know what else to do.

Whatever your reason, get over it. If you want power in your presentation, if you want your audience to be excited and persuaded and ready to buy, the source of important information must be you-not your slides. Indeed, if you are counting on your slides to be more than a visual support that reinforces your message, you are weakening the muscle of a powerful technology.

So, you’re reading this article hoping to discover how to write for the screen. What were you thinking?

Perhaps you’ve heard me say it before, but it is a truth worth repeating. You are the presentation; your PowerPoint is only an add-on. Put another way, you are the host of the party; PowerPoint is the art on the wall.

The power in PowerPoint comes not from the all tricks it can do or from all the words you can jam onto the screen. It comes from the technology’s effectiveness as a conveyor of images. As a visual aid, PowerPoint gives you the opportunity to be a great presenter. As a graphic addition to your presentation, it can simplify, highlight, emphasize or underscore what you are saying. But as an information vehicle, it fails miserably. In fact, research tells us that the more text you put on the screen for you or your audience to read, the less likely you are to make a solid, human connection with them–and it’s the human connection that moves people to accept what you have to say.

Do NOT put a single sentence on your slides–unless it’s a brilliant quote worth saying again. Do NOT go for clever marketing buzzwords or jargon or jazz. You know this stuff cold. This is your subject and you could talk about it for days. A few keywords will keep you on track.

If somebody else is delivering the presentation, send them “talking points” for each slide and tell them to practice until they are comfortable and fluent and easy to hear.

Oh yes, I know what happens. When you search through the PowerPoint templates, little boxes direct you to your keyboard and almost demand that you fill in the blanks. It’s hard not to start typing. Don’t do it!

Think visuals, not text, because the more text you include, the less effective your presentation will be–and that’s bad for sales. What on earth were you thinking?

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