Recently we held a Powerpoint Karaoke event at work to bookend our workshops on creating better presentations. The purpose was to have fun but at the same time make clear the difference between great and awful slides.
So, what exactly is Powerpoint Karaoke? It is an event where volunteer presenters come up to the front of the room and narrate slides that they’ve never seen before. The slides change automatically and the presenter must improvise with every new slide. The slides may or may not be related. For the audience it’s usually a laugh-inducing event. For the presenters, it can be a chance to show off their improv and presenting skills with welcome humor.
How did we do it and how can you do it? Here is the way it worked: First, we sent out a flyer advertising the event with a link to more info and a signup form.
Since we only had one hour or less for the event I decided to have only 10 performer/presenter slots. Each volunteer presenter would get 9 slides that would show for 20 seconds each. The total running time of 3 minutes seemed reasonable for possible embarrassment or boredom. I preselected slides with an intentional mix of good and bad examples. This assortment added flavor and at the same time demonstrated the power of a well-designed slide.
Because I needed to control the breaks between presenters, I advanced the slides manually with a stopwatch app to measure the seconds. You could do this with automation, but if so, then I would recommend a blank slide or two between presenters.
After the last presenter/improviser was done I brought out my iPad and opened a free app called Decibel 10th and we metered the applause for each presenter, going down the list and recording the number achieved. The top applause winner chose one of the items I brought-a gift card, the book Slideology by Nancy Duarte, and a copy of Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds. Second and third place winners chose from the remaining prizes.
This was so much fun that we are definitely doing it again in late Spring. The next time we are also going to hold it in our public lunch space to draw a larger audience who might just stumble upon the event as well. There is talk about doing this after-hours at a bar/restaurant to enable presenters full freedom in their speech. I’ve seen this done at other places…just do a search on Youtube on Powerpoint Karaoke and you’ll see what I mean.
Finally, I want to note that this is also a great way to learn more about the talents of members of your team. Let me know if you try it with your group. I’d love to know how it went.