(What’s the Story) PowerPoint Glory: Side B - An album of songs to improve your slide decks

Updated: Aug 24, 2021




In the first post in this series, I presented the first four simple principles you can apply to improve your slide deck game forever, via a playlist of songs. In case you missed it, check it out here as it sets the stage for “Side B”.


Don’t forget that follow along by actually listening to these songs (and maybe discover some new music along the way), you can hear these on a Spotify playlist here.



The first four songs revealed principles to start simple, keep the mindset for utilizing images rather than words, and where you do need to project words distill these down to statements with iconography instead of boring old bullet points.


Let’s now expand on the idea of looking for ways to convey ideas beyond simply typing words into a slide with our fifth song.


SONG 5: “THE PYRAMID” BY LOVE OF DIAGRAMS

It’s the name of this Australian indie rock band that is the headline: Love of Diagrams. At the same time, the song title reminds us that shapes are nicer to look at than words and that visual cues can help us communicate deeper concepts than words alone. The shape of a pyramid, for example, can help us convey a simple relationship between three related ideas or a hierarchy of layered concepts that reach a peak. Processes, relationships, hierarchies, and other complex ideas should be illustrated visually for your audience. Don’t just hope that they will be able to draw the comparison in their minds as they read the words. Rather than using words to describe an idea, use a diagram to convey it.


There’s a ton of ideas buried within the “smart art” feature in Microsoft PowerPoint. I don’t often actually USE this feature, instead, I take inspiration from the ideas held there and create something similar with basic shapes. The principle is easy to remember though.


Principle 5: Use diagrams instead of descriptions.


Now we come to my favorite, and easiest to apply, principle. Let’s get a reggae vibe going.


SONG 6: “FILL IT UP” BY TRIBAL SEEDS FT. GONZO & NEW KINGSTON

When inserting pictures into your slide deck, it’s an excellent idea to remember this reggae song by Tribal Seeds. Look at all of your screen real estate and do what the song title says. Make your images, screenshots, and embedded videos full screen. Literally, fill up the entire slide with your image! Don’t be afraid, go for it! If you need to add words to the image, add them! If the letters end up blending into the image, experiment with the color of the text, or try adding solid or semi-transparent colors into the textbox until you create the contrast you need. If you still are concerned that you are obscuring the slide template or corporate logo, replay the first song in the playlist!


Principle 6: Use full-screen graphics and screenshots.


If you have read my book Before the Mic, you will have noticed that this is where the playlist in the book ends. In this special blog edition, I am delighted to include two additional bonus tracks.


SONG 7: ANIMATE BY RUSH

Here’s the thought to keep in mind, even after you have applied all the principles thus far - your audience WILL read everything on your slide as soon as you show it.

Don’t overwhelm your audience with too much information at once. Even when you have statements with cool icons to accompany them, you don’t need to show them all at once.


Think of scenarios where you are tempted to pull out the laser pointer. You might LOVE to wield the power of the laser when presenting. You may enjoy channeling your inner Jedi and make the Pssshhew sound as you press the button, wielding its incredible power. Or, perhaps the idea of the “shaky dot” and the potential to blind someone terrifies you (these fears are related). For me, it’s the latter.


Rather than adding an element of unnecessary danger to my presentations by relying on the laser pointer, I apply the "animate me" principle mentioned by my favorite Canadian band.


Use simple animations to introduce ideas as you discuss them. These types of animations are a GREAT way to keep your slides visually interesting. If you project a slide with everything on it at once and then talk for a long time without anything visually changing, your audience’s attention will begin to wane. Entrance and exit animations and simple motion animations (when used sparingly and for good reason) can help you keep the attention of your audience.


Principle 7: Animate your slides to introduce points as you discuss them.

SONG 8: FADE IN-OUT BY OASIS

And now we come to the final song in this eclectic album pays respect to the artist (and album) that inspired the title of this blog. This principle applies to the most common animation and slide transition that I use.


At this point, I need to talk about bagels. When visiting family in New York, we often go to a favorite bagel shop and buy a supply to bring back to Ohio. For YEARS we’d bring home a variety of different types. Then we’d eat all the everything bagels (our favorite) and then wonder who was going to eat the blueberry and chocolate chip ones we hauled home. Then we’d do the same thing again (we did this for years!). Why? I have NO idea! All I can think is that we must have felt like we should get a variety for variety’s sake. Maybe it felt “boring” to order 24 of the same thing, even though that’s what we wanted.


Eventually, we realized that we should just abandon the whole “variety” concept and just get ourselves loaded up with the flavor we liked.


My point? You do not need to use a variety of slide animations just for the sake of it. A variety of slide animations do not necessarily make your slides any more or less interesting. Fade-in and fade-out animations are often the most professional and subtle way to transition between visual elements, so don’t be afraid to use the same animation over and over. Of course, when a different animation helps you to convey an idea, certainly mix it up! Just don’t fall into the trap of using a variety of animation flavors just for the sake of it.

Principle 8: Use fade-in and fade-out animations more than any other.

I hope that you enjoyed my playlist (and had a chance to check out the actual songs). For completeness, I’ll summarize all eight principles here inclusive of my “side 1” post also.


The six principles of aMMMazing slide decks:

Principle 1: Keep your slides simple and clean.

Principle 2: Use more graphics than words.

Principle 3: Use statements instead of sentences.

Principle 4: Use icons instead of bullet points.

Principle 5: Use diagrams instead of descriptions.

Principle 6: Use full-screen graphics and screenshots.

Principle 7: Animate your slides to introduce points as you discuss them.

Principle 8: Use fade-in and fade-out animations more than any other.

If you’d like to learn more tips to increase your confidence while presenting, check out my book Before the Mic.


Again, thanks for reading (and listening!) Glenn.


Did this blog post inspire you to think of any fun tenuous-presentation-related songs? I’d love to hear them and I may feature your submission (Giving you full credit obviously!) in a future blog post and playlist!



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