Stop Sucking: 4 Mistakes to Avoid When Presenting or Making Decks

We have established why design is an extremely important component when making slides or decks. The thing is, design is not the only component to consider. So, if you’re the kind of person to spend hours upon hours making slides look ‘nice’ and not give a crap about other, more important (yes, I said it) components, then you need to stop sucking. Here are 4 mistakes to be aware of when you’re presenting, or simply making decks.

Mistake #1: You Aren’t Telling A Story

Out of the 4 mistakes, this one is probably the one that I see people making most.

Let me be crystal clear in saying this: when you are presenting or formulating a deck, you are creating a narrative for your content. In essence, you should be able to tell a story – from start to finish.

The mistake occurs when people just start throwing in random points of information into their presentation or deck. The end result is a bunch of information with zero substance because there is no logical sequence (or ‘flow’) between the points of information. This leaves the audience confused. Some might even hate you because they have to make an extra effort to understand what the hell you’re even talking about.

Make sure there is a flow to your content from beginning to end, and make sure your content is connected to one central theme.

Mistake #2: Don’t give the audience more than they have (or want) to process

Remember that when you are presenting or making a PowerPoint deck, you’re producing content for your audience, not you. That said, you’re expected to keep things to the point and only give your audience information that they need to process.

Don’t show off by throwing in extra points that aren’t even relevant to your content and don’t try and fill in blank spaces in your slide with unnecessary fluff. Stick to what matters: the information that your audience wants to see. I’ve discussed this point in detail, and even compared it to cutting your own arm off – you can check out this post here.

Mistake #3: Your slides aren’t visual enough

There’s a reason why Slide Cow spends time in developing PowerPoint infographic tutorials: infographics make content easy to interpret because they’re visual.

If your slides are just blocks of bullet points, then you really need to consider how that impacts the message(s) you’re trying to get across.

People get bored with text. That’s the truth. Therefore, it is your job to make your information visually appealing so that your audience can both process and interpret your message as effectively (and efficiently) as possible

Mistake #4: Your slides aren’t interactive

Interactivity is the process of two or more people working together and influencing each other. When applying that to the context of presenting or making decks, there’s a rule of thumb to follow:

Involve someone you are trying to get the message across to.

When you’re presenting, interact with your audience – ask them questions, seek their input, show why their input matters in correlation to the content you’re delivering. Do things to keep them engaged.

Now, I understand this might be harder when you do not have the chance to present your content, and instead, are required to submit a deck to somebody for their review. If this is the case, then you have to make sure two things are carried out:

  1. Interact with the person you are delivering your deck to while you are still producing the deck. Ask them questions that lead to better content, seek their input on what works and what doesn’t.
  2. Make sure the information in your deck relates to the person you are submitting it to. If you are submitting your deck to the Head of Marketing of McDonald’s, then you damn well better produce content that the Head of Marketing of McDonald’s wants to see and understand.
Final thoughts

These 4 Mistakes are often overlooked, but remember, we aren’t here to just make PowerPoint slides look pretty. We’re here to become better communicators.

If you feel like you’ve ever committed any of these 4 mistakes, then stop, review what you’re doing wrong, and change it according to the suggestions laid out above. You don’t suck if you work on the mistakes you commit, you only suck if you choose to ignore it.

So, stop sucking.

Yousef "Yoyo" Abu Ghaidah

Yousef "Yoyo" Abu Ghaidah

Yousef "Yoyo" Abu Ghaidah is a PowerPoint ninja that founded Slide Cow, a learning platform for all things PowerPoint, presentations and public speaking. When he's not designing slides or giving presentations, he's on another coffee run.
Tired of making boring presentations that don’t get results?

We can help.