I wonder what Presentation Zen would make of Tony Blair's PowerPoint use. I half-watched the PM's monthly press conference this lunchtime, and couldn't help noticing that although he was referring to presentation slides describing NHS reform, the TV cameras refused to include them in frame. Helpfully, Downing St posted the slides as a PDF file… and suddenly, I'm grateful to the TV galleries. Ouch.
A few hints for those in charge of the country:
- Be Consistent In what you give capital Letters To. Otherwise It Looks really Odd. I mean, 'Department of health'?
- Grids of numbers, even small grids, and especially when projected on big screens, can't be quickly digested. Just don't do it.
- If your slides have full sentences on them – they shouldn't. Ever. It's a presentation, not a document.
- Sixteen lines of text per slide is too many. Some , like Seth Godin, would even say: 'No more than six words on a slide. EVER.' (See his free PDF book, or this interview with fellow PPT guru Cliff Atkinson.)
- What's happening at the bottom of slide #9? 'baseli…Progress…arget'?
The best slides in the set – by far – are the two dominated by charts – particularly #3, showing the drop in 'Number of Patients Waiting more than 6 months' (not my capitalisation). I can barely read the Y-axis, and I can't see any of the underlying figures – but that's the point. Slides are there for their visual effect. They are at their best when conveying one single message… in this case, 'down down down'. In a split second, I get the message of this slide. The same simply can't be said of (most of) the rest.