What if Your PowerPoint Slides Make You a Liar?

The marketing director of a well known Internet company presented us with fascinating stats about Internet use and users.

I was captivated by the numbers and percentages until he reached the graph slide in his PowerPoint presentation.

One of my colleagues raised his hand to ask a question. The presenter innocently paused to take the question and was blindsided by what happened next.

My colleague boldly announced that the graph slide was wrong. The data clusters clearly could not be true for the axis defined in the example. When this was pointed out I could see his point. The graph was bogus. The marketing director tried to recover by accepting that the “data” illustrated on the slide was indeed bogus but that it was only for illustration purposes. My colleague continued to point out that because the data represented was bogus therefore anything else the marketing director said was thus suspect.

The marketing director stumbled as he attempted to skate by the flaw and continue to use the questionable slide for his example. My colleague persisted to the point of sounding angry. The marketing director finally conceded and moved on to the next slide and announced that the bogus slide would not be used again.

I was intrigued by the exchange and the impact on the room. Most of the audience knew of my colleague’s expertise and most likely “sided” with him on the point of credibility. The dispute ruined the flow of the presentation and hurt the presenter’s credibility. The presenter first attempted to continue what was clearly a flawed example. He attempted to belittle the flaw.

Most importantly the presenter failed to do three things:

He did not thank my colleague for being so astute.

He did not apologize for the error, (attempted deception).

And because of that he failed to clarify what I suspect was an important point.

You can take a few presentation learning points from this incident.

Don’t use PowerPoint slides prepared by someone else until you understand them fully.

When you use a PowerPoint presentation prepared by someone else – the audience will hold you accountable for errors.

Never use an illustration that is not representative of reality.

Not everyone raising their hand is asking a friendly question. Be prepared for the unexpected attack during your presentation.

When you are clearly wrong – apologize to the audience and thank the person who pointed out your error.

George Torok

The Speech Coach for Executives

Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives.Share/Save/Bookmark
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