Three most annoying problems with business presentations, according to PowerPoint expert Dave Paradi

by Pierre Morsa

Dave Paradi, an expert on PowerPoint presentations, has published the results of the annoying PowerPoint survey. We are not going to discuss the full results here, but what is clear is that the top 3 hasn’t changed much in many years. You could probably guess them just by asking yourself “what do I hate about PowerPoint presentations?” The top three problems are:

  1. The speaker reads the slides to us

  2. The text is too small

  3. Use of full sentences

    Number one is a no. This is one of the first things we teach to people using “slideuments”: never read your presentation. A presentation is not a prompter that you read at the same time as your audience. This is an extremely ineffective method of communication. It will bore your audience so much they will fall asleep or start crying.

    Number two is obvious, or rather should be obvious: text that is so small nobody can read it is useless, and should be avoided.

    Number three is a bit weird. Why would people be annoyed by full sentences? Using short and simple sentences is fine. We think that the correct formulation for that problem should be “use of sentences that are too long or too complicated.”

  4. Text overload

  5. Not having a clear purpose

  6. Not having a clear flow of ideas.

All common problems that we still see in most companies. Number 4, text overload, is a sign that the presenter doesn’t know the difference between a slideument (a written document being used as a presentation in front of an audience) and an actual presentation (a slideshow showing only what reinforces or clarifies the message). Not having a clear purpose, point number 5, is usually a sign of poor preparation, and a sign of focusing on what is in the presenter’s mind instead of what should be communicated to the audience. Number 6, not having a clear flow of ideas, is directly connected to number 5 and is another symptom of the same root causes.

We have simple advice to avoid these 6 problems:

  • Don’t read your slides. Instead, learn the storyline and talk naturally to your audience.
  • Use a visual presentation, showing only what is needed to clarify or reinforce your message. Never use slideuments, written documents disguised as PowerPoint presentations, on screen in front of an audience.
  • Make sure that all text is at least 16 pt or better 24 pt. Actual size may vary depending on the room setting. The bigger the room, the bigger the text needs to be. When creating your slides, take a step back from your computer screen and check that you can read everything from a distance.
  • Use only a few words or very simple sentences. Sentences that are more than one or two lines long should usually be avoided.
  • Use the Audience Transformation Roadmap to structure and prepare the content of your presentation.

You can read the full results of Dave Paradi’s survey here.

Dave Paradi