How IT Can Fix Your "Death By PowerPoint" Presentation Problem

Who can make business users' PowerPoint presentations more appealing, clear and secure? IT. Yes, IT, says one Forrester expert. Here's why your IT staff may need a new jurisdiction.

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How IT Can Help

Like many "treatment" programs, the first step to remedying a presentation problem is admitting you need help. Once users realize they need assistance and stop blaming the software ("It's not my fault, it's PowerPoint's!"), then IT leaders can step in and recommend various treatment steps. (Can you just imagine preparing a PPT presentation for a meeting about presentations? Gulp.)

Bill Gates PowerPoint
CIO.com: In the "so bad it's good" category, we honor 8 PowerPoint slides (including Bill's) that will make you say, "What the heck were they thinking?" See: 8 PowerPoint Train Wrecks and 8 More PowerPoint Train Wrecks .

"Instead of just supplying tools," McLeish advises, "these IT professionals can improve the overall quality of the presentations in their firms." Her suggestions:

Improve Visual Literacy. McLeish notes that "proven techniques from experts like Edward Tufte and Garr Reynolds are probably new to most iWorkers whose subject matter expertise lies elsewhere." IT leaders can introduce users to simple techniques for improving visual literacy, like Tufte's "eliminate chart junk" to simplify drawings and Reynolds' "don't create slideuments" to keep presentations from become visually unappealing handouts.

Remind iWorkers that the ideas come first. "It may be that a pen and paper or whiteboard is a better place to start thinking about information visually," McLeish writes. "And an image may be more powerful and memorable than a bullet list."

Provide Collaboration Tools for Content Development and Slide Management. Collaboration strategies focus on increasing iWorker efficiency, reusability of knowledge artifacts, and managing governance, risk, compliance, security, and privacy, McLeish writes. "iWorkers developing content for presentations benefit from collaboration tools that help them find relevant information that's up to date and accurate."

Increase Access and Use of Web-Based Tools. The Web is, of course, a never-ending resource for presentation materials and delivery. Web conferencing tools, for example, make it easy to deliver a slide deck, augmenting audio conferences, she notes.

In addition, "SaaS presentation solutions like Slide Rocket provide slide libraries, measurement tools, and an online marketplace to buy stock photography, audio, animations, or locate services," McLeish writes. "Web-based presentation resources can also jump-start creative juices by offering tips, best practices, and communities. And upgrade to the latest software versions to get the benefits of improved rendering and graphics."

Provide Guidelines for Content Use and Security. IT managers have to ensure that those iWorkers creating the presentations understand how to appropriately use and cite external content "as well as the consequences of misuse or inadvertent exposure of confidential company information," McLeish stresses. "Legal and IT pros can help inform policies around use of third-party content and measures that may be needed to ensure protection of company secrets."

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Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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