Phil Witte and Rex Hesner discuss how to avoid the dreaded “death by Powerpoint.”
Ugh…PowerPoint! The very mention of it can put people to sleep.
How can you keep your audience awake, engaged, and even entertained? It can be done through the miracle of cartoons. People pay attention to cartoons because even captive audiences enjoy humor, and cartoons appeal to people whose attention span can be measured in nanoseconds.
Whether the topic of your presentation is the latest Human Resources edict or something as dull as a dreaded mandatory update, there are thousands of on-target cartoons on the CartoonStock site to choose from. Start by inserting a PowerPoint ice-breaker. A clever single-panel cartoon, positioned soon after the title slide, will enliven the dullest room. A great cartoon tells an entire story in one image, one that can help make your point with aplomb.
Here’s an example: Many of us have had to endure a safety talk, which mostly feels like a scolding. Sure, you shouldn’t run with scissors, but you’re an adult and have done dumber stuff than that. In Mick Stevens’ cartoon, he gently observes the logical outcome of overprotectiveness in this playground scene.
Take another look—he covers almost all the bases: swings, tag, hide ‘n’ go seek, a sandbox, and so on. It took 15 kids in helmets, plus a great caption, to put his point across. Let Mick help you!
Do the above words elicit a stupendous yawn? Yes! That doesn’t stop squadrons of seniors signing up for dinner and a presentation. You’ve got slide after slide packed with financial jargon, but first, why not loosen things up? Leo Cullum was a virtuoso of the barroom gag, something your audience will recognize instantly. Perhaps a “delayed reveal”* of the caption will cause a coordinated guffawing.
*Delayed reveal PowerPoint steps:
- Under the “Insert” tab, select “Shapes,” then a rectangle.
- Use the “crosshair cursor” to draw a rectangle over the caption.
- Right-click the shape and select “Format Shape” from the drop-down menu.
- Change the “Fill” color to white, and select “No Line.”
- Now go to the Animation tab, select “Wipe,” and choose “From Left” under the “Effect Options” dropdown.
Voila! Click your mouse to reveal the caption to a captivated audience.
An HR presentation generally lays out further restrictions on office behavior, reductions in benefits, or the rationale for limited pay increases. Fun topics? No. But you can at least loosen up the crowd with a classic cartoon by Leo Lorenz. Wrapped up in the cartoon’s humor is a gentle message that the changes conveyed in your talk are minor compared to the draconian measures misapplied by Lorenz’s stodgy bosses. You’re not stodgy, are you? Impress your boss by proposing to purchase 50 cartoon credits (just $92 at CartoonStock) for use by the entire department.
The new tax laws have caused consternation, jubilation, and everything in between. Your tax preparation talk is popular but filled with anxiety-ridden attendees. Danny Shanahan’s fairytale-themed cartoon will put ‘em at ease. It’s not only funny but gives solace to every wage earner.
Connecting With Your Peeps
Cartoons are also a useful device to connect with your audience. Determine what they have in common—profession, interests, demographic—whatever it is, you can search CartoonStock for an appropriate cartoon to let them know you’re one of them. Let’s say you’re making a presentation to realtors; consider Michael Shaw’s cartoon about very motivated sellers:
The next cartoon, another one by Danny Shanahan, could work for multiple audiences: medical service providers, workers’ compensation lawyers, and—if you dare—animal rights advocates:
The magic of a great cartoon is its ability to instantly communicate a complex idea. The humor and nuance allow the presenter the luxury of building a narrative around the cartoon’s theme – even with complicated material. It can make you and your presentation memorable.
Find cartoons now:
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(9 credits = 1 basic presentation license)
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