Death by PowerPoint

May 27, 2011

So there we were, sitting in the hotel conference room anticipating the speaker.  The lights dimmed, the music slowly faded, and the speaker opened up his talk to the 40 or so of us who were there to be inspired by his message.  Our expectations were high, but our energy low, since it was 7pm and most of us had worked a full day at this point.  I expected the speaker to dazzle and inspire us, and make my investment of TIME on a Thursday night worthwhile.

Much to our chagrin, the speaker proceeded to recite – verbatim – a deck of countless PowerPoint slides.  Now I mean no disrespect to the good folks at Microsoft who brought us PowerPoint; I believe it’s a valuable tool for business.  However, if used incorrectly, it can quite simply BORE your audience to tears.

I believe a speaker has a responsibility to shake his audience awake.  To use descriptive language that paints pictures in our minds, and  compelling words that touch our emotions.  PowerPoint slides can enhance the presentation, but ultimately the speaker is the presentation, not the slides. 

A few ideas to consider:

  • Prepare a compelling opening that intrigues your audience and grabs their full attention
  • Do not recite information on your slides verbatim (consider that if the audience can simply read the slides and get the message, then the speaker is not needed!).
  • Challenge yourself to eliminate bulleted lists (been there, done that).
  • Find creative, engaging graphics that illustrate key points without words.
  • Get your audience involved by asking questions, calling for volunteers, etc.  Make it interactive.
  • Make your presentation an enlarged conversation by talking with your audience rather than at them.

Is this easy?  Yes and no.  It’s easy in concept, but challenging in execution.  Preparing a presentation in this manner does require some time and preparation,  however your audience will thank you with their active engagement and smiles.

There are great resources out there to help you become a polished and inspiring speaker – no matter the topic or venue.  Your local Dale Carnegie office offers courses, seminars, and individualized coaching – see the links below to find your local program.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central & Southern New Jersey. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @CarnegieJersey.

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2 Responses to Death by PowerPoint

  1. KatrinaCampau on May 27, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Susan –
    Your point about the speaker being the presentation and not the slides is soooo true!  What a powerful reminder.   PowerPoint should enhance the presentation…not be the presentation. 

    • Susan on June 17, 2011 at 5:53 pm

      Thanks Katrina for your comment on my post – I just today found it!  :-)  Hope all is well with you!

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