Psychology & Communication

How to make GREAT Powerpoint Presentations – Zen Presentation

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(Literal) Text Transcription of the video :

Hello. In this new video, I’m going to share how to make Powerpoint or Keynote presentations that really make an impact.

So how are we going to do this? Well quite simply, by following the Zen Presentation method which was popularized with the “Zen Presentation” book which, I think, was released in 2008, something like that – 2008 in France anyway – and it revolutionized the art of making PowerPoint presentations.

So what are the key concepts of Zen Presentation?

how to make great powerpoint presentations zen presentation concept

Well, quite simply, the goal is to get the audience excited and not overload them with too much information on a single slide. Because generally, the big drawback with PowerPoint presentations is that there is too much information crammed into the same slide and it’s usually just text. And the worst thing we can do in a Powerpoint presentation is to display text that in fact, we’re going to read out. In other words you display the slide for everyone to see and you then say exactly the same thing. If you do this, you’re guaranteed to send your audience to sleep.

Once, I remember going to a scientific conference day on subjects like physics, biology, that kind of thing; very interesting subjects. There was this old gentleman, apparently a respectable scientist, who did a presentation exactly like I have just described to you. There were no images at all, there was a lot of text in his presentation. And all this gentleman did was read the slide that everyone had just read because the problem is that, generally, we read much faster in our mind than what is read out loud.

So I had already finished reading the whole slide before he had finished reading the first bullet. And I was not the only one. And I even saw someone who had actually fallen asleep and was even snoring. It was the first time throughout the day that this had happened and it was clearly the most boring presentation of them all. And I think that was a really big factor.

So, by following the Zen Presentation precepts, you will avoid this pitfall.

You can deliver a classic presentation with just text and few images. But if you do, always explain the contents of the slide before it appears on the screen because this way, the slide works like a reminder of what you just said. And since people won’t have been reading, they will have listened to you before reading, which is far less boring.

But Zen Presentation goes even further. The purpose of Zen Presentation is to have the most pleasant presentation possible, with little overload and one that truly accompanies what you say, to ensure that people’s attention is maintained.

So there are two key concepts. The first key concept is, contrary to what most people do, don’t give the same presentation depending on the context. That is to say, if you are giving a presentation and, for example, you want to present it live to people, have personal notes handy so as not to forget any key points; but you also want to provide a printout of the presentation to people. Well, what you do is create three versions of the presentations: one that you will present live, one that will contain your personal notes that no one else will see and a third printed version that you will hand out to the audience.

I generally recommend that you do not give the printed version to the audience before you do the presentation, give it out afterwards rather. There is nothing worse than having all the slides ahead of time because you just scan the handout and you then know everything about the presentation and as a result, you are much less attentive to what the presenter says and that’s just very, very boring.

However, following the precept of “Zen Presentation”, we could very well create slides with blanks in. For example, a PowerPoint presentation with blanks where there is always a word or two missing, keys points, key words in a sentence that means the audience is compelled to pay attention in order to fill in the blanks in sentences, which of course increases the attention you will get from your audience. So this is the first key point.

And the second key point is really well illustrated in the book on this page. I hope you can see it. It is quite simply that you have one key idea per slide and you should use a lot of images. I don’t know if you can see it well enough but 95% of the presentation is rubbish with a pie chart here. 95% in red/rubbish, anything that isn’t rubbish is in black, here.

Obviously, you’ll be able to embroider this somewhat, possibly by checking the notes you printed for yourself, but don’t overdo it.

And there are some excellent… right, here you go. Here is a typical example of a classic Powerpoint slide overloaded with far too much information.

There are plenty of examples in this book. It’s really very well done. It’s beautiful. There are lots of pictures. It’s really very user-friendly.

zen presentation smile user friendly

So here for example, on this page, we have an example of a presentation. Here, a non-zen presentation, here, a zen presentation, here we have a graphic that is drowning in an image. We see absolutely nothing. Here we have a background which is neutral, which means we can easily see the figures provided. Same thing, here.

So there you go, a very well put together book that I already reviewed in my “Books to change your life” column. Use the link below if you want to get a little deeper into this video and see a more video content. So that’s it.

This is what I wanted to share with you today. If one day, you do a Powerpoint presentation to an audience, I recommend that you read “Zen Presentation”. Maybe you won’t apply everything but it will at least give you the basics in order to avoid a bad presentation.

By the way, I already used the principles of Zen Presentation in several videos, including the most popular video in the YouTube Channel, which is the video entitled “10 reasons not be an employee”. The link is just below if you want to watch it. I didn’t produce the illustrations, that was Olivier Richard from Simple Slide, which had a dedicated blog on Zen Presentation topics.

I don’t always use Zen Presentation because it still takes more time to produce than a normal presentation, I’d say. But in any case, I use some of the principles at least, and it’s obvious that it improves my presentations overall.

This is what I wanted to share with you today. Thank you for watching this video.

As usual, I need your feedback. If you liked this video, click on “Like” just below and then share it. If you didn’t like it, click on “Dislike” and don’t share it.

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