A funny thing happened to me on the way to writing this column.
I thought I would take a quick look at what the experts had to say about common mistakes in PowerPoint presentations before I offered my own 2 cents. To my dismay, I discovered that many of these experts were themselves making a basic error. See if you can catch it.
In Presentation Magazine, David Canfield offers this advice:
1. Using Fonts in PowerPoint.
2. Embedded Objects.
3. Bullet your ideas.
4. Use masters.
5. Spell check.
6. Don't copy images from websites.
Hint: Aside from inconsistent capitalization, consider the first word in each item.
Under the heading "Using the Wrong Background" in "Ten Mistakes in PowerPoint Presentation," Ham Diyon suggests:
•Avoid using too many colors.
•Limit the colors on each screen.
•Poor background choices will resulted in poor visibility.
Aside from the typographical error, again note the first word in each item.
Here's another example, from PublicSpeakingHacks:
•Possibly the most typical PowerPoint blunder is neglecting to embed the fonts into your presentation.
•Playing around with the many different fonts, effects, templates and graphics in PowerPoint can be genuinely enjoyable.
•Steer clear of the temptation to write everything you would like to say on the slides.
•Large blocks of text are very difficult for your audience to read.
•Last but not least, never treat your PowerPoint slide show as the visual version of your talk.
Now consider some expert advice delivered without this common error. Under the heading "Building Better Slides" in "Avoid the Mistakes of PowerPoint Rookies," Linda Bird advises:
•Include the body text (bulleted point) information in short, to-the-point phrases, not complete sentences.
•Plan three to five text slides per major concept.
•Use just one main concept per slide.
Even as they offer advice, the other experts are guilty of the most common error in PowerPoint presentations: nonparallel structure.
Parallel structure is a rule of consistency. All items in a series must be presented in the same grammatical structure. Consider the jarring effect of two adjectives followed by a noun in this sentence: "She was healthy, wealthy and an athlete."
With so many PowerPoint experts blowing it themselves, I'm too discouraged to write my own column on the topic. All I can say is don't serve apples and oranges in the same list. Be consistent, proofread carefully and parallel structure is important.
Did you catch my error?