Reducing your PowerPoint addiction

Gripes with PowerPoint are well documented. You probably know them all, so no point going over old ground. But I have one fresh, big gripe: PowerPoint destroys your natural style of presenting.

As you stand up and read off the slides, it can result in stifling your mental agility (y0ur ability to think on your feet).

You concentrate on reading out each word, rather than discussing your argument, ideas or findings. You turn your shoulders, and sometimes whole body, to pray at the PowerPoint altar.

All of this type of behaviour is far removed from the natural ‘you’ – which means the audience remains far from convinced.

Take the Anti PowerPoint Challenge
This should apply to everyone – not just PowerPoint junkies. Try conducting your next 3 presentations without PowerPoint.

“Ridiculous!” I hear you splutter! “Everyone in my industry presents on PowerPoint. It would look wrong to be without it.  Also, how would I show numbers and graphs?”

Those claims are easily countered. For starters, it’s a great point of difference to do what everyone else ISN’T doing. The variation will be a breath of presentation oxygen. As a result audiences will start to buy into you more readily.

Reducing your PowerPoint addiction may also force you to think of new ways of explaining things. It will increase your mental agility when under the pressure of presenting. You’re more likely to treat it as a two-way conversation than a formal presentation. If there is some supporting visual evidence such as a graph, put it in a handout for afterwards, or a well presented board (your local printer can do a display board for £5 and only a few hours’ notice).

I guarantee you that your audience will appreciate the variation.

So is there a role for PowerPoint at all?
Yes, but only if you avoid using it as a “crutch”, or a script on the wall. It should be used selectively to add power to your message, when the spoken word alone isn’t enough.

Recently a media researcher from Brilliant Advertising in Leeds presented a graphic that showed the geographic concentration of visitors with less than two hours drive-time. This was something very hard to explain in words, and the picture painted at least a thousand of them. It was a very striking graphic that in an instant proved a very relevant statistic. Similarly you can use PowerPoint to show video footage – say an endorsement from a customer, or to build or layer some data to show growth. Great ways to enhance a message.

Remember that people are there to listen to you. They want to hear your ideas, and see you bring the message to life with your own natural style – whatever that is. If you suspect that PowerPoint is limiting your abilities to do this, please take the challenge for your next few presentations.

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