“The Deck”, in corporate lingo, has come to take on a meaning away from its original, intended purpose: a set of presentation slides designed to highlight (not overtake) a speech. In many companies, “The Deck” has now become a project bible, a handout with dictionary-level complexity, outlining, in detail, the philosophy and strategy of a brand. Executives pour over the pages of “The Deck” in meetings, discuss tactics, and forget that “The Deck” was never meant to act as a handout.
Then “The Deck”, for no discernible reason, reverts to its intended purpose, and is presented to an audience. The results are usually disastrous. The audience strains to understand the complex images in front of them, the speaker feels compelled to read off “The Deck”, non-verbal communication (tone of voice, gesture, etc.) gets put by the wayside, and the presentation sucks.
What to do? Don’t allow your team to create a project handout using PowerPoint or Prezi. PowerPoint is for designing images for speeches, not for writing out copious text. It’s a painting canvas, not a piece of paper. Create a handout in Word or Pages. It seems like a simple thing, but by highlighting the difference between the spoken and the written word, you can begin to improve the quality of your team’s presentations.
Next, outline for your team what makes for a good speech, and what makes for a good slide. A good speech is loose and not spoken by rote. A good speech entails not reading off of your PowerPoint. A good speech has novel ideas. A good speech has added interest like stories, quotes, examples, metaphors, contrasts and comparisons. A good PowerPoint slide has four or five pieces of data on it tops, is full-bleed, and largely visual. It is simply a marker, a highlighter. You, the presenter, are the main focus.
So kill “The Deck” and win the audience!