News and Updates
July 6, 2013
Mark Maloney: How Not to Kill with Powerpoint

Veteran presenter, Mark Maloney, gave us a two week journey through the perils of PowerPoint.  He provided the following notes for his sessions:

When it comes to PPT, less is more. Visual aids are images that engage the audience emotionally, get their attention, and give them an image to attach to the emotion, or to anticipate a story.


Thanks to Bill Gates, we live in an era when anybody can be Steven. Spielberg. But just because you can add special effects, that doesn’t mean you should. Special effects, slick transitions and too much verbiage distract the audience from your message.


1)   Opening- right hand/left hand activity to get both sides of brain engaged. “When I think of PowerPoint, I think______, I feel______.” Then fold paper in half so you can’t see your answers, put your pen in your other (less dominant hand) and re-answer. Note how the two sides of your brain view the same task differently?

2)   What is the purpose of PPT? It is a visual aid to your speech–it is not the star of the show.  We still keep the same order of Importance for all speeches: message, audience, your delivery.

3)   The most successful PowerPoint (actually Keynote) presentation in history: was when Steve Jobs came out in front of a sunrise background and said two words: “the iPhone.” Two words, 13 billion dollars. That’s why less is more.

4)   Too many presenters worry about their slides and forget the audience.

a)   The basic fallacy that causes so much Death by PPT is academic research on learning styles: Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic with corresponding percentages. As a teacher, we applied these learning styles-sequentially, not simultaneously! Current research—and commonsense—tell us that people have a hard time focusing on what they are reading if someone is talking over it and the same time.

5)   Speaking is still storytelling-even when it is an information dump. The visuals are background for your message. Slides can be a setting for your story, or a punchline for your jokes-a reinforcing fill for a pause.


a)   Presentation tips:

i)     Use presenter mode to keep eye contact with your audience.

ii)    What to do if your computer crashes? Make sure you have sticky notes on fingers outlining your main points.

iii)  Get rid of the dazzle. Motion detracts focus and attention.

iv)  Never print out your slides and hand them out before or after the presentation. It tells your audience that you have no value. Instead, email a copy of your full speech afterwards.

v)   Hyperlinks and videos are risky. More often then not, there is a technical glitch. Be prepared by keeping the video on your desktop.

6)   How do you create a great PPT presentation? Where do you start? Remember that your speech is based on a single idea, which is supported by stories and pictures. Start with pencil and paper. Until you get to that single, one sentence idea, you aren’t ready for the computer. Brainstorm your speech, write a rough draft, then do a hand made story board, rearranging the ideas with their corresponding images in Post-It notes. Only after all of that is done should you turn on your computer and start work on slides.

7)   Rules for designing a great slide:

a)   No paragraphs, sentences, numbered lists, or bullet points.

b)   Use six words or less, never more than two type fonts.

c)   Follow the Golden ratio. Use a grid like a tic-tac-toe board to align your pictures and text. The grid lines break the field and will lead the viewers eye.

d)    Eliminate noise. Two-dimensional charts are better than three-dimensional charts.

e)   Don’t use pre-formatted or themed slides. Allow your images and text to “bleed” over to the edges. Get stock photos from or Google images.


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