Death by PowerPoint

Too often, PowerPoint serves as a crutch or poor substitute for speaker’s notes. We’ve all been through the painful hour of a dry speaker that reads each bullet point from his or her slide verbatim. Before double-clicking the PowerPoint icon, ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • If all you are doing is sending out a list of bullets and information around some topic, do you really need a full-scale meeting and presentation? Is a summary document followed by a group discussion enough?
  • PowerPoint and a speaker are a situation where 1 + 1 should equal three or more. Ask yourself what additional value PowerPoint will bring to the table in this particular situation. Are there compelling visuals or complex diagrams that can only be conveyed on the “big screen,” or are you just using PowerPoint “because everyone else does?” If you plus PowerPoint equals an even more tedious and boring presentation, leave the slides at home.

Presenting without PowerPoint is actually quite liberating, and will interest your audience immediately due to the simple fact it is so rare in a corporate environment. If you must use PowerPoint, make sure the slides augment and build interest in your talk. I like to use humor or a fun theme that keeps people interested. For example I’ve abandoned boring corporate templates and used clipart from the movie “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” to present around cost-benefit analysis, complete with cheeky movie sound effects. At the end of the day, unless PowerPoint adds to your presentation, follow Nancy Reagan’s advice and “just say no.”

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