The Fiscal Cliff Debate in PowerPoint Slides: 3 Tips for More Engaging Presentations

The Fiscal Cliff Debate in PowerPoint Slides: 3 Tips for More Engaging Presentations
December 3, 2012

I recently came across a non-partisan organization, Fix the Debt, which is deeply involved in the debate over the fiscal clif. The campaign’s mission is to mobilize key communities, including leaders from business and government, and people all across America who want to see elected officials step up to solve our nation's fiscal challenges by developing a comprehensive plan to fix our long-term debt and deficits.

As part of the campaign, they are encouraging business leaders to have a dialog with employees, associations and peers. To that end, they created a Tools section of their website with two downloadable PowerPoint presentations to help business and community leaders initiate a dialog. 

Back in June 2011, we came across a similar presentation by candidate Mitt Romney and we worked with Carmen Taran from RexiMedia to do an extreme makeover of his slides. With a similar goal in mind, let’s take a look at one of Fix the Debt’s presentations called “The CEO Presentation.”  We’ll start the review by viewing the presentation in Slide Sorter mode. The first presentation already looks pretty dry and complicated. 

CEO Presentation

fiscal cliff slide makeover

Here are a few things that stand out right away:

1-  The slides either contain lots of text or complicated charts. It might seem unavoidable to create charts that are anything but complicated and disengaging, but not to worry, Volume 3 of our animations templates includes a variety of excellent PowerPoint chart templates which would dramatically enhance the charts used in this presentation.

2-  None of the slides have animations, so the audience will be scrambling to read the entire slide before the presenter is even finished speaking about the first bullet point. This often has a counterintuitive effect, as the audience tends to focus more on reading the slide, for fear that the valuable information on the screen will soon disappear, than they do actually listening to what the presenter is saying. A simple set of complimentary animations will help systematically focus the audience’s attention on relevant pieces of information that supplement the presenter’s narration, rather than distract from it. Our animations best practices would serve as a helpful set of guidelines for making these slides more dynamic.

3-  The title listed on the cover slide is “Between a Mountain of Debt and the Fiscal Cliff.” With this title, there exist some wonderful visual themes to work with, which they did not take advantage of on their cover slide or at any other point throughout the presentation. The trick is not to be trite and slap a mountain or cliff grabbed from Google Images into each slide.  It’s also important to keep the amount of text on a slide to a minimum. This will increase the overall effectiveness of the presentation by not only ensuring that the audience will pay more attention to the presenter than to reading slides, but also by making the slides more aesthetically appealing and less cluttered. For ideas, take a look at our Presentation Revolution Helpful Resources Page.

All is not lost! In addition to the presentation pictured above, they also created a CEO Infographic.  This is so much better! Still no animations, and the cover slide needs work, but the visual theme of the cliff starts to come through on the charts.

CEO Infographic

fiscal cliff slide makeover 2

A more impactful way of comparing the presentations is by placing key slides next to each other as pictured below. The one on the right incorporates quotes, which is a very effective way of making your case, and it also includes impactful charts and icons. You can actually imagine a CEO giving this presentation!  Click here to see what they both look like in the Brainshark player.

fiscal cliff slide makeover 3

Whether you’re creating slides for business proposals, community presentations or anything in between, remember that engaging visuals, a thought-provoking theme, and little animation will prevent your slides from inspiring “death by PowerPoint,” and will instead inspire your audience to take action on behalf of your cause or initiative. 

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