Two striking PowerPoint techniques

Apparently in Japan, presentations are often boring.  Slides are typically crowded with small text that most people, especially those at the back of the room, cannot read.  Nevertheless, they still try. The result: a distracted audience.

(It’s funny: I’ve never been to Japan, but I’m sure I’ve been in presentations like that.)

The Takahashi Method

To counter this, the Takahashi Method was born. The eponymous Masayoshi Takahashi developed a system of presentation that uses only text. But not just text; VERY LARGE TEXT.

What, all those wonderful PowerPoint tools lying idle, and just the text function used? Isn’t that such a waste?

There are two things to say about that. First, just because something is possible doesn’t mean it should be done. There are plenty of fonts in my Office word processor that I wouldn’t dream of using. Similarly, the very richness of PowerPoint’s functionality means that discrimination and choice should be exercised.

Second, when it comes to presentations, it’s very easy to distract people. We all know the scenario: the presenter has several paragraphs of text on the screen. He proceeds to read most of these out, amplifying and adding as he goes. The audience’s brains are fried trying to read and listen at the same time.

The advantage of the Takahashi Method is that there are only around ten characters or so per slide. It’s newspaper headlines rather than sentences. No long words or complex phrases – and no distractions.

This may well work wonders in Japan with its character-based script; but I think it’s going a little too far for the West.

The Tom Peters method

I prefer the suggestions of management guru Tom Peters in his “Presentation Excellence”.

He advocates making only one point per slide. It’s perfectly possible to take in a sentence of five to 10 words: and that can make a strong impact. When those 10 words become 50 or 100, that’s where the problems creep in.

This single-point idea is underlined by another of his suggestions: eliminating clutter. A busy slide is a wasted slide. So, according to Peters, we should get rid of small print, multiple charts or graphs – or anything tiny, fiddly or difficult to see.

Following these suggestions can work wonders for most presentations, making them more memorable, impactful and engaging. In this context, anyway, less definitely is more.

By David Vickery


Published On: 24th May 2010

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  1. what a superb website…..
    i’m just sitting to see all

    reguram 29 May at 2:51 pm
  2. People forget that PPT is a presentation AID and not the presentation
    Its success lies in the fact that, used properly, the audience see the slides of text as pictures and retain the information – think about why tables work better than a whole paragraph holding the same information
    Remember that each presentation is different – the same information may be to a different audience, in a different location or for a different purpose e.g. to inform or to stimulate discussion

    hazelb 29 Nov at 11:22 am
  3. Thank you so much for this tip. now i know how to start my presentation 🙂

    gina 16 Sep at 9:47 am