Death by PowerPoint – Part 2

I was just re-reading “What Clients Love,” by best selling author Harry Beckwith.  Under the heading, “Lincoln Had No Slides at Gettysburg,” Beckwith offers some classic advice about how to avoid the mistakes that arise froman over-dependence on PowerPoint when making a speech or a presentation:

1) You are not selling the slides, you are selling the people who are clicking the slides.

2) When prospects gaze at slides, they are not looking at what you are selling: you and your ideas!

3) Use slides only to illustrate a point that you cannot express as well with words alone.

4) A slide filled only with words is neither a visual nor an aid.

5) Make contact with your audience – you must look into their eyes and let the audience look into your eyes.

Thank you Harry.  Your advice is invaluable.

Personally, I think that many presenters use PowerPoint for their own selfish reasons. Rather than just outline their talking points (so that they remember what they are going to say) presenters create PowerPoint slide shows.  They think – wrongly – that “if my outline presents my ideas in a logical fashion, why not add some graphics and show the audience how clever I am with PowerPoint!”

As Mr. Beckwith reminds us, the audience is not interested in how clever you are.  They are interested in your ideas – as they pertain to their interests.  However, the audience is most interested in you – how capable you are in executing the ideas that you are presenting.  And… how well you connect with your audience – your clients.

I wonder what would have happened if Lincoln had, in fact, used PowerPoint to “enhance” his speech on the battlefield at Gettysburg?  It would have been easy to fit such a short speech (“Four Score and …”) up on a screen.  But would we have remembered the speech?  Or just read the words ourselves?  And, it might have been a challenge to find the right visuals – hard to top the stark visual presented by the battlefield itself. 

Think about this the next time you are preparing for a presentation.  No slide show can ever cover-up your weaknesses.  Present yourself.  Make contact.  Leave a lasting impression.

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