Executive Speaking Weblog

Communication – the future of business

World Class PowerPoint

Posted by Presentation Skills on October 16, 2009

The next time you have to give any sort of presentation using PowerPoint, try this:
1. Decide what your main points will be.
2. Visit http://www.istockphoto.com
3. Search for a picture that conveys your idea. For example, if your main point is about performance, look for a picture that shows performance. This could range anywhere from a picture of Formula 1 racing car through to a couple competing in Ballroom dancing. It all depends on the type of performance you are after.
4. Buy the picture (typically about $2-$5)
5. Make the picture as big as the screen.
6. Place minimal text on the slide.
7. Leave the 1 slide up for the whole time you are speaking about that main point (could 10 minutes!)

I guarantee that your audience will not have seen this type of business presentaiton before, and you will be remembered for it….and after all that is what you want!

What is your opinion on this?


Darren Fleming
Australia’s Corporate Speech Coach

5 Responses to “World Class PowerPoint”

  1. Olivia Mitchell said

    I would add to this – make the text that you put on the slide the message that you want to convey.
    Express it in a short and succinct sentence – but not so short that it becomes cryptic. Meaning is more important than brevity.

    You can either have the message there from the moment you show the slide. Or animate it in, as you conclude your point.


  2. I like the concept, but I think I would paint a verbal picture rather than leave the same image burning its way into the audience’s retinas for the 10 minutes you’ve described.

    The eye is engineered to notice variation – evolutionarily this is all about spotting predators or prey. As such, our eyes ‘tune out’ unvarying visual stimuli after a short while. This is why having conference themes, logos or page numbers on your slides is pointless. The audience simply stops seeing them after a few moments and all these elements are doing is taking up space on your slides.

    A strong speaker, with a well-crafted talk, will have no difficulty in holding an audience’s attention for 10 minutes. If you find one really apposite image on istockphoto which encapsulates your core point, it may be useful to bring it in toward the end of your talk and stimulate your audience’s ‘visual channel’ and lock the concept into their heads at that juncture – using it to seal the deal rather than during the setup.

  3. Hi Rowan,

    Thanks for your points.

    The concept of the eyes tuning out constant stimuli is what makes this so effective. When the new slide pops up, people see it, take it in and tune it out. WHile the speaker is speaking, the audience will switch back to it every now and then (maybe only twice in 10 minutes). This helps to gel the message with the picture on the screen, and more importantly the image they create in their head.


    Darren Fleming
    Australia’s Corporate Speech Coach

  4. Phil Evans said

    I tried a slight variation of this technique for a 5 minute presentation to our local ICT cluster. The presentation is on Slideshare.

    I really like this presentation format and now completely tune out when someone shows me a stack of PowerPoint slides wallpapered in text.

    The only down side is when your presentation gets published somewhere like SlideShare, as they don’t work as well when they aren’t presented by a speaker. The secret may be to make excessive use of the Notes features in PPT, and probably produce a second stand-alone deck for this different presentation format – probably something along the lines suggested by Olivia.


  5. Hi Phil,

    great point about making the notes.

    Here is the slides I used for an extended woirkshop last week.




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