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Having Fun with PowerPoint

Using Humorous Slides

by Jim Snack


I have a love hate relationship with PowerPoint. 

On one hand, it's a powerful communication tool that can help an audience visualize an idea or concept, making it concrete and more understandable.  On the other hand, poorly designed PowerPoint slides can confuse an audience and become an impediment to understanding.  At its worse, PowerPoint lulls an audience into a hypnotic stupor.  Turn down the lights, turn on the projector, and watch the audience go to sleep.

My purpose isn't to bash PowerPoint.  Nor is it to show ways to use PowerPoint to more effectively communicate your ideas.  Instead, my purpose is to show you how to use PowerPoint to have fun while communicating your ideas, using it to entertain, surprise and amuse an audience.

Wait a minute, you may be thinking, corporate training is about information, not entertainment. 

That's true, but every program I create has two purposes:  education and entertainment.  I want my audiences to learn something new and useful, but I also want them to have fun doing so.  Nowadays people expect information to be delivered in an entertaining format.  To hold an audience, you must entertain while educating.  

Furthermore, it has become increasingly difficult to capture and hold people’s attention.  Our brains are filled with too much clutter.  To succeed as a presenter you must break through the clutter.  When used to entertain as well as communicate, PowerPoint slides can help you capture attention, break through the clutter, and engage an audience.       

For example, I sometimes use a humorous slide to introduce my topic.  Remember the old speaking axiom, "Start with a laugh, end with a tear."  A cartoon, funny photo or humorous video might be just what's needed to capture attention and open the minds of audience members before diving into your material. 

Start a collection of cartoons and humorous photos that relate to your topic.  If you see a funny sign, take a picture of it.  Google "funny signs" and you find lots of examples.  You can find humorous videos on YouTube.

A good source for cartoons is They have a large database of cartoons and you can purchase the rights to use one of their cartoons in your presentation for as little as $20 per year.  Or you can commission an artist to create an original cartoon for you.  Always remember to obtain the proper copyright permissions if you use cartoons, photos or YouTube videos in your program.

Humorous PowerPoint slides can not only help you capture attention and refocus an audience, they can also be used to break up complex information into manageable chunks.  Try slipping a cartoon between two slides filled with numerical data.  You will give the audience a break from the complex information, and they will come back refreshed, better able to process new information. 



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