The Powerpoint is not your presentation


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3 Checkpoints to Presentation Success: A Practical Guide to Creating a Clear & Focused Presentation

Most business presentations are dour affairs. High on information, low on inspiration.

My belief is that our over-reliance on Powerpoint is to blame for most of this.

There’s one particular advert that gets on my nerves – one which most people won’t care much for. Watch out for the first line that comes out from the woman in the passenger seat of this car.

The point of the advert was to advertise Telstra’s wireless service – when you’re in a rush and you’ve forgotten a piece of tech for your presentation, connect to your workplace server and download it onto your laptop, and voila, your high stakes meeting is saved!

Not taking anything away from Telstra’s hardware and you could argue I’m missing the point of the advert.

It’s just that first line!

Who’s got the presentation?

As if to imply the presentation was the slideshow or Powerpoint or Prezi or whatever tool they had in mind?

The Powerpoint does not make the presentation. You are the presentation.

As poetic justice would have it I was attempting to make this exact point at a presentation I delivered at Perth Business Leaders Speakup Meetup. The tech failed on me. I was showing this video and well, have a look at the result.

That morning, I prepared and rehearsed cueing the video with my clicker at least five times.

For some strange reason, at that moment, it just did not want to work live.

If you’re relying on the technology to solely communicate your message, you’re not ready to present. If the tech fails, you should have a backup, whether its print handouts, a whiteboard or in my case, storytelling.

Words backed up by one Jim Prost, speaker expert at Fripp Associates & Co who shares this piece of brilliant advice,

‘Let us decide what you want to say, what is the best and logical way for you to say it, then let’s look where you need to add PowerPoint®. Your PowerPoint® development should occur at the end of the speech development, not the beginning.’

I like this approach as it implies that you would internally know what you want to share, and the slideshow becomes a supplementary piece that helps to communicate this one point.

Don’t get me wrong. Powerpoint is an excellent tool.

What I am saying is don’t become too dependent on your slides. You know this occurs if you find your eye contact predominantly on the projector screen and not on the audience. To figure this out, you’ll need someone beforehand to look out for it, or set up a video camera to record yourself and review afterward.

Use the whole gamut of your presentation skills – interactive exercises, whiteboards, handouts, and yes, storytelling, to engage your audience when the tech fails.

Don’t rely on Powerpoint alone. It might fail you when you need it the most.

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