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What Google can teach us about PowerPoint

Since 1998, Google has been giving us Google Doodles. The first Google Doodle was in honor of the Burning Man Festival.

Google Doodle Running Man
Google Doodle Running Man

It was simple and still used the Google text with an image behind the word. What Google can teach us about PowerPoint is that you don’t need to use text to communicate your message. Yes, many Google Doodles still use the Google Text, but they have been transformed into images that tell a story.

Take the Google Doodle from June 1, 2015 “Children’s Day 2015 (Multiple Countries).”

While the Doodle does show the letters in the word “Google,” they have been transformed to show a children’s playground. Each letter represents a child playing, laughing, and singing.

You know it is Google’s Home Page when you get there, even though you don’t see Google’s true logo. You think about children on a playground. Google Doodle’s are telling a story, much like a PowerPoint Presentation should do. Your mind reads the story that is being told to you in the image.

Most, if not all, of you have either sat through or created a PowerPoint Presentation that you would consider “Death by PowerPoint.” You know, those blank white slides with bulleted text so small that you have a tough time reading it, or can’t read it at all. The presenter just reads the text as if you were a 2 year old.

Google Doodles were initially neither animated nor hyperlinked; Doodles transformed.

From January 2010 with the first animated Doodle honoring Sir Isaac Newton,

to the first interactive Doodle appearing shortly thereafter celebrating Pac-Man,

and then hyperlinks began to be added to Doodles, usually linking to a search results page for the subject of the Doodle.

As simple as it may sound, these are the things Google can teach us about PowerPoint. As Google Doodles have transformed, so has PowerPoint. PowerPoint now offers features that allow you to make your presentations come alive.

Transitions, Image layering, Animations, Hyperlinks, and other incredible features aren’t there for you to present boring white slides with bullets. These amazing features allow you to engage your audience, to tell your story.  We should make our PowerPoint slides visual, interesting to the eyes, and interactive whenever possible. Now, don’t think you need to go crazy with using PowerPoint features. Look to Google Doodles for inspiration: Keep slides simple, but tell a story. Use an image for your audience to view as you speak to your topic. Let the audience use all of their senses to hear your story.

You also don’t need to be a graphic designer. There are plenty of free image sites out there. One of my favorite is Pexels.

You can search by keywords to find the image that best represents your story. Simply place the image into the slide and fill the slide with the image. Often times, you don’t need any text at all. Your audience will absorb the image and your story as they view the image and you speak to them. It can also insight a conversation.

Tip: When using images, not only do you want to make sure avoid copyrighted images, but don’t use a goofy clipart image when you are speaking about a serious topic, for example. And, don’t just place the image next to your bulleted text. While sometimes that will work, it still looks boring and it looks like an afterthought. I bet everyone reading this remembers at least one (1) Google Doodle they’ve seen over the years. And, so it should be when your audience views your PowerPoint Presentation. They should remember something about what you presented. They shouldn’t come out of your presentation thinking they’ve just seen another “Death by PowerPoint” presentation.

The moral of the story – Google can teach us about PowerPoint. It’s how you use what you've learned that will make you better. Learn from Google Doodles and go make engaging, exciting, story-telling PowerPoint Presentations.

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