Presentation Cliches: Death by Powerpoint

It’s been hammered into us that we need to use visuals in our presentations, to throw out the clip-art and replace it with stock photography but there are problems with stock photos, there are a lot of over-used cliched ones out there and using those images is as bad as using clip-art. One very clear example of this is:

Death by Powerpoint Man

image: Vision Jar

Many presentations or blogs which mention “Death by Powerpoint” will show this photograph, making this man the “Death by Powerpoint” poster-child.

Others in an effort to be “creative” will show other images of sleeping or “dead” audiences, all killed by a boring powerpoint presentation, i.e.:


There are three problems with these sleeping images:

  1. They’ve become a cliche. They may have been original and clever when they were first used but the sleeping image or a varient of that image is now used everywhere. Originality is a key way to grabbing your audience’s attention.
  2. The sleeping image doesn’t relate just to the “Death by Powerpoint” phenomena, this could happen for any boring speaker, with or without a visual presentation.
  3. Showing an audience pictures of people bored or sleeping can never be a good idea, it might give them ideas…

If you want to illustrate “Death by Powerpoint” then don’t just think of sleepy audiences, be more creative, be dramatic.

One suggestion is to not bother with finding the perfect image, instead use a dramatic font:

Or think about the drama in a phrase like “death by powerpoint”, the word death has a very strong resonance with us. To grab the attention of your audience and etch your message deep into their minds you could find an image that captures the strength of “death” yet is shocking and hard to forget. For example:

image: madstreetz

Cliches are a good way to connect an audience with a home-truth but they won’t get excited by them. If you want to grab your audience’s attention or make them remember your message then you have to avoid visual cliches “like the plague”.