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Get Creative With PowerPoint: Less is More

written by: Profacgillies•edited by: Ronda Bowen•updated: 7/6/2011

The impact of presentation graphics is usually diminished by continuous repetition. So why not try something different? Use a graphic to set up a question at the beginning of a talk, and one at the end to reinforce the take home message.

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    Even more minimalist PowerPoint

    Use one graphic at the beginning of your talk like this

    In this age of uniform mediocrity (see you need something different to have an impact. Often, less is more. For example why don't you something a bit radical and use a graphic to set up a question at the beginning of a talk, and one at the end to reinforce the take home message with just talking in between.

    It's a technique that I have used successfully in a job interview, but may lend itself to other contexts as well. It is suited to situations where you have one key theme, text or question around which the whole talk is based. The graphics become bookends framing the talk and acting to reinforce the initial statement, question or text, at the beginning and reinforcing your conclusion at the end but not distracting from the spoken word in the middle. Further information can be supplied as handouts.

    Consider for example the following question:

    Can a computer improve my life?

    To which we might pose the answer:

    Yes, but only if:

    · You have a problem amenable to computerisation

    · You have the right skills to use it

    · You have the right application

    · You have the right data to input into the computer

    Each of these would be a theme in the talk itself, but could be expounded verbally with use of examples and evidence from a range of situations.

    The sparse use of the supporting graphic increases its effectiveness in reinforcing the key theme and conclusions.

    Your bookend slides might look like this:

    In the case of the job interview, this style of graphic freed me up to expound the theme I had been given to talk about. My main competitor, had screen after screen of bulleted lists, handed out paper copies that slew half an Amazon rain forest and ended up, I understand, reading his lists. And yes, I got the job!

    If you feel nervous prepare for yourself a list of the keypoints you want to make between the slides, use cue cards to guide yourself and if you like give out copies to your audience at the end when they have listened to you!

    And one at the end like this

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    Further Reading

    Gillies AC (2007) The Art of Presentation: getting it right in the post modern era, Radcliffe Publishing, Abingdon.