Daily Archives: July 12, 2011

5 Powerpoint worst practices

I attended a meeting with a potential new client the other week and they showed me a presentation detailing their social media plans and their thoughts around strategy.  It was awful.

I can honestly say that it was the worst presentation I have EVER seen. 

And that’s saying something.  I’ve sat through a heck of a lot of presentations in my time… I’ve delivered quite a few.  Some good, some bad, some compelling, some boring.  We all have.  I’m not special, nor am I a better presenter than everyone else.  But I’ve sat through enough presentations to know and understand that there are some things you just shouldn’t do with your presentation

So why was this particular presentation so bad?  I’ve spent a couple of days trying to make a list.  (The screenshots have been taken from a deck I’ve put together using one of my documents from Scribd for the content in the slides and hidden things to protect the innocent- and they guilty).

  • There were too many words on the slide.  The slides looked like they had been cut an pasted directly from a word document. I lost track of what the presenter was saying as i was trying to read the words on the slide


  • Image slides were irrelevant and made the presenter falter.  He didn’t know what the slide images were supposed to represent.  Obviously he was delivering someone else’s content and hadn’t asked the originator what the slide images were supposed to mean.image
  • The social outcome goals slide was in the form of a pipeline funnel.  Again, the presenter read all the words on the slide, whilst I struggled to understand what the slide actually meant..


  • Implementation tactics.  Scott nailed it with his version of his strategic implementation slide.  5 columns of meaningless process and terms… Aargh.  I have no idea what the presenter said.  I was busy trying to work out what the slide actually meant.image
  • There were 40 slides for a 30 minute presentation.  Unless you’re Dick Hardt and want to reprise the sort of thing you did at Oscon a few years back, then you don’t need all of these slides. 

I fully understand that we’re moving towards a paperless office, and giving out hand-outs are not considered green.  But I had a notebook, to write down key points, I have an internet connection and could have received the documents later.  I could have listened and learned from the presenter.  I could have imagined the story from the impact of the images.

So am I going to work with this client?  Probably not for their social media story just yet.  They’re probably going to take quite a while to run through their pre implementation story.  But I’m certainly going to go back in to help them create better, more impactful presenters and slide decks!

Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.