Training & Development

The best PowerPoint tells a good story

Daniel Pennington leads a seminar on effective PowerPoint presentations at the Pensacola Little Theater. The seminar is part of the Studer Community Institute’s continuing training series.

PowerPoint works best when it tells a story instead of just delivering information.

When it comes creating a good PowerPoint presentation, less is more, clear the clutter and make it simple.

“More than 31 million PowerPoint presentations are give everyday, and the majority of them really bore their audience to death,” said Daniel Pennington, CEO of Rockstar Presenation Training. “The most important thing you can do is tell a good story.”

Pennington shared his expertise on PowerPoint presentations Thursday at the Pensacola Little Theatre with more than 60 people at the Studer Community Institute workshop: “Effective PowerPoint Presentations — Taking Your Slide Deck From Sad To Sizzle.”

An independent videographer and programmer producer for the Florida SBDC Network, Pennington has spent nearly 40 years in television. He has coached thousands of people in the art of preparing presentations and delivering a powerful message.

In the most effective PowerPoint — telling the right story that gets across the “why” — helps people understand and remember the message and how it relates to them, Pennington said.

PowerPoint is widely used because of its relatively simple and easy-to-learn format. It is often criticized when presenters rely on boring, poorly constructed presentations that distract instead of enhance their messages.

The best PowerPoint presentations, Pennington said, are laid out like a well-written story: The introduction (why), the body (how and what) and the conclusion (connect the purpose).
Done right, the presentation can having a lasting impact on the people who see it, he said.

Michelle Taylor regularly uses PowerPoint presentations as director of Workforce Education for the Escambia County School District. She attended the workshop to find ways to make her presentations clear, clever and concise.

Focusing on telling stories is something she believes will help make the PowerPoints better.

“The key point of telling stories and making the stories relate to people will really help me in developing PowerPoints that help me reach my audience in my message,” Taylor said. I came to find better ways to use PowerPoints, and that’s one of the simple things I can do to make them more effective.”

Friends network at a seminar on effective PowerPoint presentations at the Pensacola Little Theater. The seminar is part of the Studer Community Institute’s continuing training series.

Participants network at a seminar on effective PowerPoint presentations at the Pensacola Little Theatre. The seminar is part of the Studer Community Institute’s continuing training series.

Pennington said people too often rely on bullet points in an attempt to list and categorize important information.

Bullets are better suited for guns, and a bullet-ridden presentation is counter to good storytelling, he said.

When using numbers and data, don’t use graphics just for the sake of using them. Data should tell a story and when used graphically they illustrate the message and that makes the story better, Pennington said.

Using pictures, graphics and fewer words in a way that weaves facts into a story has more meaning to and effect on an audience,” he said.

“Show us, don’t tell us,” Pennington said. “It’s a visual medium. It’s not for a lot of words.”

Pennington took questions from the audience and showed examples of bad PowerPoints, adding an on-screen demonstration of how to make them better.

Daniel Pennington leads a seminar on effective PowerPoint presentations at the Pensacola Little Theater. The seminar is part of the Studer Community Institute’s continuing training series.

Daniel Pennington leads a seminar on effective PowerPoint presentations at the Pensacola Little Theatre. The seminar is part of the Studer Community Institute’s continuing training series.

Use no more than three colors and three different fonts to make it easy on the eyes and to keep the attention on the presenter, not the presentation.

The key is to simplify graphic images to make them understandable, Pennington said.

“Craft a s story that captures hearts and minds,” Pennington said. “We need to tell better stories and PowerPoints help us do it.”