The Creepiest PowerPoint Design Trend of 2009
Those were four words on four slides in a 15 minute PowerPoint presentation I witnessed last month. The remaining 700 slides in the presentation each had one word on them, as well.
OK, I'm exaggerating. There couldn't have been 700 slides in that presentation.
But it seemed like it.
In the presentation I saw, random buzzwords that the speaker used in his narrative kept fading in-an-out of the PowerPoint slides projected behind him. Oh-so-slowly.
After a few minutes, I blinked, shook my head, and looked away. I was getting too mesmerized by the slow word parade.
I was looking for meaning in those words. I was looking for context. There wasn't any.
After looking off to the right for a few moments, I focused on merely listening to the speaker while I stared at a blank wall. The presenter was telling a story about a problem his customers had, and how his product helped solve it.
It wasn't a half-bad story, so I turned to look at the speaker.
Then, I saw it.
I grimaced. I had to look away again.
Since this presentation, I've seen a few other slow-word-parade style presentations. I suspect presenters create this style as something of a mood board
to set the tone for the presentation. It can be easier and cheaper to toss word salad at people than to craft a story and work on polishing the delivery.
Personally, I find this word-mood board style of presentation design distracting and disturbing. It was hard for me to focus on connecting with the speaker or his story. I found myself thinking that he would have been much more effective with absolutely nothing in the background.
I've seen this technique a number of times this year. Let's hope this a trend that will, uh -- fade quickly!
What are better ways to set the mood for your presentation?
Labels: design, PowerPoint Presentation
Stop! In the Name of Acronyms!
That's what I'd yell if I was a police officer chasing a suspect. And apparently, I'd be wrong.
A buddy was watching a crime drama a while ago. I came in late. As I settled on the couch, a police officer was chasing a suspect.
"Stop! NYPD!" shouted the policeman. The bad guy kept running.
"What's NYPD?" I asked my chum.
"This story is set in New York. NYPD is New York Police Department. Everyone knows that."
"Really?" I asked. "If I was visiting New York, and some nut with a gun was chasing me screaming out alphabet soup. I'd run faster."
Of course, screaming out the acronym NYPD is ludicrous. If I was in Chicago, would police officers scream, "Stop! CPD!"? And if the Ontario Provincial Police yelled, "Stop! OPP!" -- suspects would probably break out in laughter.
It doesn't take any longer to say "New York" than it does "NY". Same number of syllables. So it's not a matter of speaking an acronym for speed. And it's not a department that's chasing a bad guy -- it's a solitary officer. Even weirder -- why say the name of the city at all? Isn't that redundant? After all, the suspect probably knows what city he's in!
I asked my crime-show loving friend all of these questions. He seemed annoyed.
"Because it's TV. I'm sure they say, "Stop, Police" in real life. Now can we please watch the show?"
I stopped talking, but I kept thinking about it. In real life, people can get a little acronym happy. The police officer became so accustomed to interdepartmental and collegial jargon -- he forgot that anyone outside his circle wouldn't know what the heck he's yelling about.
It's not just television show detectives that have acronym issues. As a consultant who gets brought into larger organizations, one of my first tasks is usually to crack the acronym and jargon code that insiders use among each other. This can actually be kind of fun -- like a puzzle. Or learning a new tribal language. It also helps keep my wits sharp for when adolescents and young people start talking in Instant Messaging Lingo (IM, for short!) --"OMG! POS - TTYL
So when it comes to crafting presentations or communication pieces for an external audience, consider hiring a writer or editor -- if for no other reason than to have an outside set of ears and eyes experience the communication piece. You won't believe the alphabet soup I've often encountered in external marketing presentations. It often slips by, unnoticed to ears that have grown tone-deaf to the buzz of interdepartmental acronyms.
It's really that ubiquitous. Don't believe me?
For a fun little exercise, open up any one of your recent corporate or organizational PowerPoint presentations. Do an acronym count -- it's quite likely that you'll find at least one.
And before you think, "Yeah, but everyone knows THAT acronym..." please think about how little work it might take to change it. You can make yourself more clear by actually speaking the words -- instead of chanting the letters that represent the words.
This one simple act may keep your suspects -- er, prospects -- from running away!
Labels: PowerPoint Presentation