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Chef Laura: Avoid the Krispy Kreme effect

Laura Cook Newman //March 20, 2014//

Chef Laura: Avoid the Krispy Kreme effect

Laura Cook Newman //March 20, 2014//

We’ve all heard of “Death by PowerPoint” – a live presentation focused on a lengthy deck with slide after slide of facts, data, charts, numbers, and words.  This elicits what I call “The Krispy Kreme Effect”; you end up with an audience that is completely glazed over.

Then the poor chump who created this labor of love proceeds to address the screen and read it verbatim.  The captive audience grimaces through the presentation while their minds drift to more important things.  “Did I feed the cat this morning?  How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?  What rhymes with ‘orange’?”

The speaker concludes “Any questions?” waits one nanosecond, mumbles “Thank you” and sits down to a smattering of sympathy claps.

It’s not really his fault.  After tireless hours of research, he probably made a kick ass deck chock full of pertinent information.  But he did not make a kick ass presentation.  The two should go hand in hand, right? 


I think of PowerPoint decks like the two types of food cooked in a restaurant:

  1. The Staff Meal – A filling meal prepared for the servers, cooks, and dishwashers.  Also known as “clean out the walk-in meal”.  It may not look too pretty, but it usually tastes good and fulfills its role as strictly nourishment.
  2. The Menu Offering – A thoughtfully prepared dish made with the finest ingredients intended for paying customers.  It delivers the wow factor and is served to a chorus of “oohs!” and “ahhs!”

Staff Meals are never served to paying customers, and Menu Offerings are hardly ever given away to the staff gratis.

The same is true of PowerPoint decks.  They should have different audiences and different intentions, although ultimately they are both helping feed the crowd’s mind.

What’s the solution?  Make two decks. 

Deck #1 – Pack it full of all the necessary information.  This is your “textbook” of sorts.  Email it to all your peeps that need this document as a reference tool.  They can view it at their leisure in their cubicles and digest all the hearty knowledge.

Deck #2 – As the presenter, you are Gladys Knight.  These slides behind you are the Pips.  Every once in a while, your presentation needs a well-placed “Woo-Woo!” and that’s where this deck comes in.  They are less than Cliffs Notes (those should be in your head).  These are the pops of visuals that deliver the razzle dazzle.

Since 83 percent of us learn through sight where as only 10 percent of folks retain the information they read (or less, if it’s read to them), it’s time – once and for all – to end Death by PowerPoint. Who’s with me?

If you disagree and insist on subjecting your peers to Deck #1 during a live presentation, at least have the good sense to bring a box of donuts.  The audience still won’t learn anything, but it will probably suppress their desire to hitch the next train to Georgia.