Don’t become a PowerPoint comedian

When I mention the malady known as “death by PowerPoint,” nearly everyone nods. We’ve all been subjected to a variety of excruciating presentations that aren’t improved by the speaker’s use of that popular presentation software.

I could list several examples, but the one that ticks me off the most is the goofy slide that’s stuck into the middle of the presentation in an effort to lighten the mood. Sometimes it’s a silly image, sometimes a bad joke, sometimes a scene from a popular movie – I’ve seen all those and worse.

Let’s be honest. A dull, lifeless presentation doesn’t become compelling because you’ve tossed in a joke. If anything, it becomes less gripping, because you’ve disturbed the flow and consistency. You’re moving along in a particular style and at a steady pace, and you suddenly throw something jarring in there. I get that you’re trying to keep the audience awake, but belching loudly or dropping your trousers would probably be more effective and memorable.

If you want your presentations to be remembered and taken seriously, keep them consistent. Either you’re going to be funny, or you’re going to be serious. Don’t jump from one to the other. Resist the temptation to shove cute little jokes into your presentation. You’re a presenter, not a comedian.

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