I just saw a movie (Waitress, highly recommended) where a character, madly in love, composes spontaneous poetry for his beloved. It's fairly horrendous, but quite charming.
I think, many, perhaps most of us, avoid spontaneity because it will make us look like fools. We go out of our way to be careful and politically correct and to look good (or cool) at all costs.
After all, this is why they invented PowerPoint, right? "Sure you'll bore everyone to death, but you won't look bad doing it."
What you don't notice is that as you drone on and on, being careful to cover every-single-point written on every slide, is that people are either dozing off or planning to slip poison into your drink at the break.
I don't use PowerPoint. Ever. And you shouldn't either.
A presentation ought to be a conversation with your audience. And your job is to do one thing and one thing only - to persuade them to adopt your point of view.
A presentation, whether it's a 90-minute introductory overview on your services, an hour-long teleclass or a two-day workshop, needs to be engaging, entertaining and exciting.
If it's not, it won't persuade anyone.
And PowerPoint won't help you get there. It makes your presentations stiff, constrained, safe. And that's not what you want or need to get your ideas across powerfully.
If you want to have real impact, here's what you need to do:
Have a Purpose
Your presentation can't be a rambling collection of disconnected points. It needs to be a story that leads somewhere. You have something important to get across and you need to have a coherent theme with ideas that lead to a logical conclusion.
Start with a Problem
Why should they listen to you in the first place? What's at stake? What's not working? Give your audience the motivation to listen to what you have to say by making it clear that what they are doing now in their business is costing them dearly.
Point Towards an Outcome
People aren't necessarily interested in your point of view unless there's something in it for them. So tell them what they can accomplish if they do what you say. Paint of picture of a future that is more compelling than the problem they are currently struggling with.
Explain What They Need to Do
This is the heart of your presentation. Outline in detail how your approach or your plan will move things from problem to outcome. To do this, you don't need computerized visual aids. You need clear thinking, bulletproof logic and engaging stories.
Ask for Action
There's always a next step to take. But it won't take itself. When you've made your case (and this may be several times during a presentation), ask your audience to take a stand with you and actually do something.
This is where we started, remember? If you have a solid case to make and a great presentation to back it up, you can stop being careful. Try authenticity instead. Our character from Waitress was a bit of a dweeb, but he was an authentic dweeb. (And he even won the girl in the end.)
Can you imagine if he'd used PowerPoint?
The More Clients bottom line. The purpose of presentations is to persuade. To make your case you need to be both prepared and passionate. Dump your PowerPoint slides and get your ideas across as if your future depended on it. (Which it does!)
Do you have a story about a powerful presentation that didn't use PowerPoint? Please share on the More Clients Blog.