|"I have a love/hate relationship with PowerPoint. In the right hands, it's a great presentation tool. In the wrong hands (and unfortunately, most usage falls into this category) we are cloning generations of boring slide shows narrated by speakers we barely notice." - Debbie Bailey |
Ah, the good old days. For me, those were the days before PowerPoint slide shows became the norm for virtually every business presentation given in corporate America. I fondly remember the days when presenters spoke passionately about a subject near and dear to their heart without having to display every single thought on a slide. I reminisce back to the time when 80 slides for a 20 minute presentation was NOT the norm, when presenters weren't just slide narrators, when preparing for a presentation meant more than putting together your slide show.
Now don't get me wrong, I know the advantages of using slides, however, I also know that too much of a good thing is NOT GOOD. I subscribe to Bill Wheless' philosophy about PowerPoint "It's like alcohol in the hands of a drunk. What we need is moderation." Somehow, we must learn to use, but not abuse, the positive attributes slides bring to our presentations. If we don't, we risk looking and sounding like every other boring business presenter. Worst of all, we become forgettable.
Think about the last presenter who strongly affected you. More than likely that presenter used very few, if any, slides. The most memorable presenters rely on their delivery style to make their point, rather than a well designed slide deck.
When I first began teaching presentation skills more than 20 years ago, I struggled to convince presenters to incorporate the use of visual aids. My how the world has changed.
Today, I have to work twice as hard to convince presenters to rely less on their slides and more on their dynamic communication skills. It's almost as if presenters believe that all it takes to deliver a successful presentation is a good slide deck. The truth is, when asked to prepare a presentation, presenters spend the vast majority of their time working on their slides, rather than their delivery style.
Consider for a moment why political candidates and presidents DON'T use slides… My guess, they don't want to divert any attention away from themselves. They understand what Roger Ailes, author of the famous book You Are the Message has known for quite some time. "For those who want to succeed, there is only one secret. YOU ARE THE MESSAGE."
Generally, here's what happens when you overuse slides.
1. Your slides lose their ability to make an impact- Essentially, slides become the white noise in the presentation, so constant that they are no longer noticeable.
2. The audience focuses on your slides, rather than on you. If 55% of your communication power comes from your body and face (based on the universally accepted research by Albert Mehrabian), than NOT having the audience focused on you diminishes about half of your POWER as a presenter. Can you really afford to cut your power in half?
3. You are demoted to the position of slide narrator. The slides take center stage and like the narrator of a play, you are the anonymous voice in the background.
Just like too many slides can detract from your success as a presenter, having a few well designed slides can strengthen your impact. Consider these quick tips designed to help improve your use of slides:
1. Develop your presentation first, then determine where a visual might help the audience better understand your message. This is a much better approach than developing your slides first.
2. Try to boil your presentation down to the six most important slides that speak to the heart of your message. Make sure that each slide you chose complies with the 6 x 6 rule-no more than six lines of text with six words on each line.
3.Better yet, make the impact of your slides visual, rather than verbal (words written on slides). The best slides arouse the audience visually so take a creative approach to translating words into meaningful pictures.
In retrospect, it's not so much that I am anti slides-I am pro YOU! While slides do serve an important function, even the best designed slide can't compete with the power of YOU. YOU are the greatest visual aid of all. Take the focus OFF the slides and put it back where it belongs-squarely on YOU! Invest the time you used to spend on your slides on your delivery practice and you will STAND APART from the rest!
About the Author
Debbie is author of the book "15 Presentation Secrets - How to WOW Even the Toughest Audience." She is well known for her presentation skills classes and in addition to training Corporate America, has also taught Presentation Skills for United States Marines, San Diego State University, and UCLA Extension
Debbie possesses a Masters Degree in Professional Communications and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Communication.
A Winning Motto: No APOLOGIES, No EXCUSES, No CONFESSIONS
Presenters say the darndest things… - “I’m sorry but I have a cold today so my voice may sound a little funny.” - “I just found out about this presentation yesterday, so I didn’t have as much time to prepare as I would have liked.” - “I wanted...
Internet Cell Phone Deals – How to Take Advantage of Them
The internet can be a great place to buy your next cell phone. How many times have you been in the mall and were harassed by some pushy wireless telephone dealer? The internet store is a sharp contrast to this type of environment. On the internet,...
Turn Your Speech Into A Leadership Talk
PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Email notice of intent to...
The 10 Worst Tips To Give Someone Who Has To Speak In Public
THE 10 WORST TIPS TO GIVE SOMEONE WHO HAS TO SPEAK IN PUBLIC 1. Learn the speech by heart or read it from a script. This is meant to be a way of making sure you don’t forget what you’re going to say. Instead, it’s usually a way of making sure...
Communication strategy during a time of strategic planning
"Rubbish!" shouted the large, aggressive man in the red-striped shirt (we had to pay attention to him because he owned the company). "The staff don't need to be told anything. When we've sorted out all the details and have the adverts ready to...