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May 28, 2007

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Brian Kolstad

Maybe it's because he uses Keynote instead of PowerPoint, but I would hardly call Steve Jobs' presentations "stiff, constrained and/or safe."

PowerPoint is simply a tool. There is a great article about presentation styles at:

https://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/2005/11/the_zen_estheti.html

Mike Plant

I recently made a presentation with five power buyers for a company in the Florida area. I had five presentation books to hand out and truthfully it looked impressive. However as the time got closer for them to make a decision, one of the main buyers told me that although the presentation books were impressive, it was not enough to differentiate my company with another that they were looking at. I asked for another interview and used the napkin selling method by using their easil board in their office and came away with a higher price and the business. They said afterwards that it came down to me being "real" with them and it has now stretched to their other sites nationally. Yes, there are Selling strategies that certain business people will recognize that you are trying on them, but 95% of the working world wants to feel comfortable with who they are doing business with and that comes down to you being passionate and real.

Susan

I do a presentation for small business owners on Turning Prospects Into Paying Customers. I originally put it on 5 large note cards. Then, I practiced until I had it 'down' without notecards.
If you know your subject matter, it should flow fairly easily.
Powerpoint is helpful in a workshop setting or when there will be a lot of notes to take. It helps those in the audience follow along. I limit the slides to the very minimum.

Robert Middleton

Thanks for all the great comments on today's More Clients.

I believe many people made very valid comments about the usefulness of PowerPont if it is used properly. Sadly this is very rare. But I definitely agree with several of the points made.

I'd recommend creating your presentation first (and include a good handout) and then create a very limited number of slides that include a few good pictures or graphics that augment your presentation.

Too bad the tendency is to put the whole presentation into PowerPoint. And that's definitely deadly!

Ros Crompton

I read your post with interest. Your sentiments are very catchy and contain a good warning not to abuse audiences by abusing PowerPoint.

I think, however, that "never" is a dangerous word. PointPoint is a useful tool, and the challenge to "never use PointPoint again" is the refrain of those who are uncomfortable with it. Never use a whiteboard, or a flip chart, or a video clip? What sense does it make to completely banish something useful?

Death by PowerPoint comes about through lack of presentation skills, incompetence in both design and choreography, and insensitivity for audiences. It comes as well from choosing the wrong tool for the job. You will break a chisel if you try to use it as a screwdriver. Likewise, PointPoint is not always the right choice for your presentation.

The more technical the tool, the harder it is to use, and PowerPoint is very difficult to use with panache but sometimes it is the best choice to get your message across. This is what matters.

Remember too, that PP is rarely required for an entire presentation - indeed, nothing is needed for the whole presentation except the presenter and that's your point I hope. Brush up on skills, and never allow technology to usurp the only audiovisual that really matters - the presenter.

Kind regards, Ros.

Mike Murray, Licensed Psychologist

I teach a class on "MINDFULNESS AND HEALTH" at Cleary University in Ann Arbor, Mich. I don't use PowerPoint. I think it just gets in the way and I'm not crazy about technology anyhow. Students generally really like my classes - three two hour sessions. I just sit down and relax and talk to people, telling them stories, often humorous, noting, for instance, that I know an awful lot about Mindfulness, but my real area of expertise is mindlessness. People seem to prefer an intimate conversational style. I agree wholeheartedly with Robert on this.

Pamela Slim

Hi Robert:

I have to both wholeheartedly agree with you (PowerPoint can be deadly) and agree with some others who say that when you have a few great visuals, they can really enhance and anchor a presentation for visual learners. My favorite source for great PPT design is www.presentationzen.com, a blog written by Garr Reynolds.

PPT should not be a "one size fits all" solution for every presentation, especially small groups. But in a large setting, it can be very effective.

-Pam

Dave Paradi

I had two people forward me your recent newsletter on not using PowerPoint and both asked me to comment on it. I think you are right on when you implore people to think of the structure of their presentation first. This is one of the areas that people skip over in their rush to create visuals.

While I agree with one part of your article, I must respectfully disagree that PowerPoint causes poor presentations and it is not needed. The tool and some of its pre-set templates and content does lead people in the wrong direction. But that does not make the tool itself the problem.

I would suggest that once you have done a proper outline of what you want to say, you consider whether visuals could add to the message and make it clearer to your audience. Research has shown that visuals combined with the spoken words gives a greater impact than the spoken words alone. Then create those visuals that would be most beneficial to your audience. For many, PowerPoint slides will be the best or most convenient container for those visuals. Notice that I am not suggesting slides full of bullet points, but true visuals such as graphs, diagrams, photos, etc.

During your presentation, you display the visuals when appropriate and explain them to the audience. The rest of the time, you can have a black screen so that you can engage in a conversation with the audience. I beleive that this will be even more effective than the approach you suggest.

Using PowerPoint visuals does not preclude you from being passionate, being prepared or being spontaneous. It can add to your message in ways that words just can not.

Thanks for continuing to challenge your readers to become better presenters.

Dave Paradi, MBA
co-author of "Guide to PowerPoint" by Prentice Hall

Steve Carnevale

I strongly disagree with your conclusion, even though your premise is sound. It does not have to be Powerpoint per se, but you need something written to back up your conversation.

The reason for this is that there are many different learning styles and only about 40% of the population are auditory learners. While I would not recommend reading the slides, a visual aid is necessary for a majority of audiences. Studies have shown it will double or triple comprehension.

Liz Williams

I'm usually a lurker on blogs, but I couldn't resist this one. Thanks for coming out against the deadly ppt - I thought it was just me who despised it I've never used ppt, and can't for the life of me attend to a presentation when someone else uses it. As a speaker, I find it splits the attention of my audience and gets in the way without adding a thing. I want to create rapport and connection with my audience like actors do in the theatre - and I can't imagine them using ppt.

I read recently somewhere that you are either reading or listening - the brain has to choose. We all know this from being interrupted when we try to read (irritating!), how have we forgotten it when it comes to giving presentations?

Don The Idea Guy

Boring Meetings Suck! (and so does PowerPoint.)

Your message and presentation need to be DYNAMIC and compelling. If not, a shiny PPT file isn't going to save you or make your audience feel any more involved.

If anything, dimming the lights for your silly slideshow will simply make it easier for them to slip into a coma.

Judy Murdoch

Powerpoint is a tool. We choose what we do with it.

This topic came up a few years ago when Edward Tufte (writer of several terrific books on information design) wrote an essay on how Powerpoint, by design, facilitates dull, misleading presentations similar to old-school communist Russia propaganda.

Wired magazine ran the essay along with a counter-essay by Talking Heads, founder, David Byrne who created some very cool-looking graphics using Powerpoint.

What I took from the article was that owerpoint is a tool just as countless PC applications are tools.
The goodness or "badness" of what comes out using the tool is more a function of the person using the tool.

Now, having said that, some tools are better than others at inspiring users to create effective communication. What Edward Tufte wrote (and I agree) is that with it's Content Wizards and array of templates (most of which are too garish, hokey, or bland) Powerpoint gives users the *perception* that they're creating something exciting and effective however bland their content might be.

Perhaps the lesson for all of us is to create a first draft of our message without the bells, whistles, and dancing ponies and if the content stands on its own, to add visuals and audio to enhance rather to substitute.

PS I believe Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech "I have a Dream" was done without powerpoint and was considered by most to be very effective.

John Lundholm

Power Point is Dead!

The preponderance of bad power point is an opportunity to shine. Power point has its place in providing a visual element to presentations. In fact as long as there is so much misuse of powerpoint those who use it effectively (i.e. few slides, no or minimal words, a consistent story line) stand out all the more.

Long live Power Point!

Zoe

Hallelujah!

No more death-by-power-point presentations!

I agree - dump the slides. People will be irritated with you as you speaking as you try to read the slides.

If you are ever going to use power point, use it for cool photos, diagrams of a model you are explaining, or some other cool visual clue - never for a summary of your presentation. Ugh.

Zoe

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