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Rule #3: Skip the Agenda

There’s an old public speaking rule which states that you should “tell ‘em what you’re going to say, say it, and then tell ‘em what you said.”  Some folks adhere to this principle when delivering a PowerPoint presentation. So, they craft an agenda detailing the highlights of every slide and key these topics with corresponding slide numbers.  First off, most PowerPoint audiences have time constraints. They are anxious for you to get on to the topic at hand so they can get on with their business. If you begin with a “laundry list” of topics you plan to cover, you risk having them think “Here’s a lot of material I’m going to have to sit through.” Slide numbers are also an “add-on” that have no meaning unless you are creating a leave-behind and you want to make it easier for the reader to navigate through your content.  So, the typical agenda, as we know it, can, and probably should, be eliminated from your PowerPoint. But that doesn’t mean there is no room for a great set-up. Think of it as more of a big-picture idea of what you will be talking about, and verbally deliver that idea or summation with all the enthusiasm you can muster. You can do that before even clicking on the title slide. Think of it as more of a “tease”. You want your audience to be completely engaged from the outset. So instead of dreading all the content they will be expected to sit though, they will be convinced that where they are, listening to you in that auditorium or conference room, is exactly where they should be. They will understand why they are there, and will hopefully sit in anticipation of what’s to come.