PowerPoint. This single word has fueled a cottage industry of blogs, training seminars and books on how to use the software more efficiently and more effectively. This is mainly because of how much PowerPoint is abused as a presentation tool. “Death by PowerPoint” is the tip of the pop/business culture iceberg when it comes to the snark and the angst this software’s inspired.

Adding to the noise are my three tips designed to help you fall in love with PowerPoint — all over again or for the first time.

PowerPoint Improv
People over think things when it comes to presentations and as a result use PowerPoint as a crutch. PowerPoint Improv is more like PowerPoint without a net. It’s Toastmasters meets a comedy improvisation with a happy hour thrown in for fun. If you haven’t seen or participated in a PowerPoint Improv like Battledecks or Ignite’s PowerPoint Karaoke, you’re missing out.

>>Battledecks is a fast-paced, fun, laugh riot where “contestants” have to put together a presentation on the fly as slides are randomly projected for their confusion and the delight of the audience.

>>For PowerPoint Karaoke we randomized the speakers and PowerPoints and each presenter gave a random 10 minute presentation on the slides. It is a fun and enjoyable practice that was first started in 2005 by a group of German artists. Now, the practice and experience of PowerPoint Karaoke is ubiquitous across many geek gatherings, and often best played with a slightly inebriated group of 6-8 interesting people.

The end result of PowerPoint Improv is a lot of fun as you become more relaxed with the medium.

Rapid Fire Slides
Pecha Kucha and Ignite bring elements of a pep rally, foot race and Twitter to PowerPoint. Both give presenters restrictions on the number of slides and the amount of time they get to present each slide. The best examples are when presenters get creative on a topic they’re passionate about to energize the audience into action. Its become more of a movement as Pecha Kucha and Ignite have spread around the world.

Cincinnati’s Pecha Kucha and Ignite are energizing events and I even presented at the most recent Ignite. It was a rush, exhausting and an inspirational learning experience as it relates to how I build slides.

PowerPoint…the Musical
I’ve created presentation kick off videos to set the tone and get attendees excited, but this is different. Save out one of your presentations as jpgs, pick a song and use the free movie making software that comes with your computer to make a PowerPoint music video. An example of the end result is embedded in this post. It’s not as crazy as synchronizing Dark Side of the Moon with The Wizard of Oz. But it could expand your mind just a little.

In fact, any one of these exercises will give you a second wind with PowerPoint. Pick one and try it out.

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