Since 2003 Dave Paradi, author of The Visual Slide Revolution and 102 Tips to Communicate More Effectively Using PowerPoint, has conducted several surveys about what annoys people the most about PowerPoint presentations. On 27 September 2011 he posted “Full Results of the Annoying PowerPoint survey” in his blog, the aptly-titled Dave Paradi’s PowerPoint Blog. You can read his analysis of the full results in his post.
The top five annoyances, with the percentages of the 603 respondents who selected these in their top three, are
The speaker read the slides to us – 73.8%
Full sentences instead of bullet points – 51.6%
The text was so small I couldn’t read it – 48.1%
Slides hard to see because of color choice – 34.0%
Overly complex diagrams or charts – 26.0%
How many of these are you doing in your presentations?
As an audio-visual technician for ten years I can attest to points 1, 3, 4, and 5 personally. So many business presentations had these issues it was embarassing. It was actually while still working in this field that I was inspired to write the article that became the post, “10 Lessons Learned from the ‘Other Side of the Microphone.’“
To improve your presentation, try doing the opposite of the above top five most annoying things:
1. Don’t read your slides.
2. Don’t put too much text on your slides.
3. Use large fonts. People in the back still have to be able to see the slides.
4. Use simple, contrasting colors.
5. Simplify any charts or diagrams you use. In most cases, the audience does not need statistics precise to two decimal places on the screen. Put the exact numbers, if necessary, in the handout. Or just round up (or down).
Make your presentations less “annoying,” and people will learn more.