Issue #176 January 13 2008

PowerPoint Tip: What’s in your Deleted Scenes special feature?

Recently I was watching a movie on DVD with my family. As with many DVDs today, it included a special feature with Deleted Scenes. As the director usually explains, these scenes were originally shot with the intention of being in the movie, but during the editing stage, they found that the scene did not move the story along or develop a character in the way that they thought it would. Since it wasn’t a strong enough scene, it was cut. In your presentations, what would be in the Deleted Slides special feature? Too often, that special feature would be blank. I see many presentations where the presenter should have cut some slides and material that wasn’t strong enough in moving the audience to understand the message. But they left in every slide and the presentation has dips where the audience loses focus during a weak spot. Not cutting out material also leads to presentations that are longer than they need to be. I rarely, if ever, hear a complaint that a presentation was too short. Most of the time the complaints are that the presenter went too long and their message could have been delivered in far less time. Why don’t presenters do the editing that a movie director does and end up with a Deleted Slides special feature? I think it is due to two reasons. First, they don’t budget the time for editing. They are rushing to get the presentation done at the last minute and don’t leave any time to step back and see if what they have created is what the audience really needs. Take the time to edit your presentation, looking for slides or pieces of information that do not strongly move the audience to the conclusion you want them to reach. Then cut those weak parts. The second reason that presenters don’t edit their presentations is that they are under the mistaken belief that the audience wants to see and hear every small detail. Most audiences, especially decision-makers, don’t want every detail. They want the conclusions that matter to them. If they want the detail, they will ask. But they trust that you are the expert and your work is good. Focus on presenting only the ideas that the audience needs to make decisions or to do their job better. For your next presentation, budget the time for editing. It will make a tighter, more powerful presentation that will get noticed.