At the end of my workshops, I ask the participants if they have practical ideas that they can implement immediately to improve the effectiveness of their slides. Without exception, they all say that they have plenty of ideas they can use. In fact, the challenge is that they feel overwhelmed with everything they want to start doing to their presentations.
If they tried to apply all the learning to all the slides in their typical presentation, it wouldn't work. They would end up spending too much time and give up with few, if any, changes being made. I want the participants in my workshops to apply what they have learned, so I share with them an approach that will help manage the work of improving their presentations.
I call it the "raise the average quality by working on the bottom two" strategy. Here is how it works. If you look at the average quality of all the slides in your normal presentation, it will be at a level that you know could be better. Some slides are good, some are average, and some are below average.
Chances are that there are a few slides, I use two as a typical number, that are the worst slides in your presentation. You don't really like them, they are hard to present, and the audience doesn't connect with them. What I suggest is that you work on just those two worst slides and improve them for your next presentation. Working on only two slides is a manageable amount and almost everyone says they could certainly redo two slides.
By improving the bottom two slides in your presentation, you raise the average quality of the entire presentation. Next time, work on the next bottom two slides. Every time you present, work on the worst two slides in the deck. After five or ten presentations, you will have addressed almost all the slides that need improving and your presentation will be much better than when you started. It may have taken some time, but the results are worth it. By tackling the presentation two slides at a time, you break the work up into manageable chunks that anyone can handle.
I really want my workshop participants to improve their presentations, and this "raise the average quality by working on the bottom two" strategy allows them to see a path to be able to apply what they have learned. Start today by looking at the two worst slides in your presentation and improve them. If you are looking for ways to improve your slides, check out the articles I have available on my site. The articles are organized by category so you can quickly find what you are looking for.
Dave Paradi has over twenty years of experience delivering customized training workshops to help business professionals improve their presentations. He has written nine books and over 100 articles on the topic of effective presentations and his ideas have appeared in publications around the world. His focus is on helping corporate professionals visually communicate the messages in their data so they don’t overwhelm and confuse executives. Dave is one of less than ten people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the Excel and PowerPoint communities. He regularly presents highly rated sessions at national and regional conferences of financial professionals.