Improve Your PowerPoint Presentations, Reduce Complexity the Army Way

The Department of Defense has had a long love affair with PowerPoint. Slides like this one, though, have been universally ridiculed, while factions within the military have slowly started to rebel against cluttered, complex, and generally indecipherable slides packed with arrows, lines, and boxes.

Microsoft, perhaps sensing that some proactive action was needed lest a huge customer walk away from PowerPoint entirely at some point in the future, has started its own campaign to help the Army make better PowerPoint presentations. To that end, Dave Karle, a communications manager in Redmond, has started a blog called Modern Presenter.

Modern Presenter is an interesting place to visit. The site is clearly aimed at military planners who need to make PowerPoint presentations. That's obvious from the template packs available on the site -- unless you need to represent rocket launchers or anti-tank missiles in your decks, there probably isn't a lot of clip art here for you. But Modern Presenter is also a place where you can learn best practices and apply a system for simplifying PowerPoint. There's a treasure trove of useful stuff on this blog that you can apply to your own (probably non-warfare-related) PowerPoint presentations. Be sure to start with an overview of the "Modern Presentation Method," which offers this advice for building a presentation in 5 steps:

Visualize. Define what your audience's needs and how to tell your story. Decide what format in which to deliver your presentation -- PowerPoint, whiteboard, and so on.

Storyboard. Like a Hollywood movie, trace the path of your presentation in storyboard format.

Build and refine. Now that you've visualized your presentation, actually bild your slides and add the details.

Rehearse. Practicing your presentation will hone your pitch and help you to iron out details in the slides that weren't apparent until you actually tried referencing and speaking about them out loud.

Deliver. Before you go to the meeting, be sure you've considered whatever notes you need to bring and backup plans in case your laptop fails or some other tech glitch occurs. [via Wired]

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