Communication Skills, Presentation Skills, Public Speaking

3 Steps To Avoid Death By PowerPoint

Blog bites:

  • Slides should add value
  • Be confident presenting without PowerPoint
  • YOU are the best visual aid

Have you ever sat through a boring presentation? Of course all of us have. The question is – what makes it a dull experience? The answer is almost always – PowerPoint.

Let’s be fair. When we say PowerPoint, we’re not referring to the brand software of that name. We’re talking about all presentation tools that use slides.

But why are slideshow presentations often so mind-numbing? You would think that visual information, graphics and graphs would enliven and enrich a presentation. Well, the software isn’t the problem. It’s how you use it. Any time PowerPoint or another slideshow program is used as a content delivery vehicle, your audience’s interest plummets.

Why? Because you become an overpaid slide clicker if your slides are content heavy, dense with data or illegible. You – as the presenter – become simply redundant. And your audience begins to care less and less about what you have to say.

So how can you avoid the slideshow slump?

Here are three steps you can take to enhance and enliven your next presentation:

1. Slides are only used if they add value to your presentation

For tens of thousands of years, humans have demonstrated effective communication without PowerPoint. Global businesses have been built, wars won and lost, worlds ‘discovered’ and centuries of learning compiled and shared without the use of PowerPoint. Projected imagery itself is, of course, a modern invention.

And while there is value in visual aids, we need to start thinking of ourselves as communicators first.

If the PowerPoint deck communicates the message or is used to simply format content ideas, then hand it out for people to read and follow it with a Q&A. Presenting is foremost a spoken, auditory experience with the visuals providing support and value.

Each slide needs to be rigorously and brutally assessed with this question: “How does this slide enrich, deepen or support the message?”

2. Be confident presenting without props

Imagine you walk into the room – no PowerPoint presentation behind you, no notes, no visual aids, no clicker in hand. You simply stand there in front of your audience and speak with zest and authenticity.

If you do this, you convey to your audience the quality of authority. You’re saying, “I am confident enough to stand before you without the props to help me, because I am enough. What I have to share and say is enough value in and of itself.”

When you own the space, you become the powerful communicator.

Ask yourself, “If the projector exploded, or the whiteboard magically melted, could I still deliver the outcome? Would I have enough confidence in myself to articulate and convey my messages in a manner that engages and enriches my audience – and deepens their ability to apply what I have presented?”

Your answer must be “Yes!” It’s that simple. And that challenging.

3. See yourself as a visual aid

The third step to avoiding a dreary presentation is to think of yourself as a visual aid. Yes – you are the reference point! The other stuff you bring into the room is just collateral that either supports or distracts from what you have to say.

Your physiology, gestures and voice can create interest, intrigue, imagery and emphasis.

So forget the slideshow and become the performer. Become the presentation. Be original, be creative and only add slides and other tools to support your performance.

Presenting without PowerPoint is what being a masterful communicator is all about. In the Mastering Communication Program, Colin James and Erica Bagshaw invite you to play with presentation skills on a deeper level, to further your training and development.

The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their professional communication skills with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.

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