Death by PowerPoint

I have been preparing for a few speaking engagements coming up soon.  So I was delighted to find a wonderful article in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Tips for PowerPoint: – Go Easy on the Text – Please, Spare Us,” by Jared Sandberg.  (Click here for a link to the full article.)

According to the article, there are an estimated 30 million PowerPoint presentations given each day around the world!  And most of them are poorly crafted and delivered in a manner designed to put most audiences to sleep.

The “point” of using PowerPoint has been missed.  We should use the program to make it easier for the audience to see our point; to deliver a more powerful presentation.  Instead, most presenters use PowerPoint simply because the program makes it so easy to put together their presentation – any presentation.  The focus should be on the audience – why are they there in the audience; what does your need to know; what do you want your audience to do as a result of your presentation?

As the article point out – just because PowerPoint is so easy to use, audiences are subjected to:

Bullet points gone wild – writing paragraphs instead of points.

Presenters who then go on to read these paragraphs to their audience.

Special effects on steroids – just because you can make your text “tap-dance”…

30 slides in a 30 minute presentation (I do hope that you think this is too many.)

In today’s WSJ article the author talks about a salesman whose company sent him to a class to learn how to make an effective presentation without using PowerPoint – they did this because all of his competitors were using PowerPoint and this would be one way to stand out from the crowd.

Indeed, I think that far too many presenters feel that their job is over once they have created the final PowerPoint slide.  They think that the brialliant content they just put on their slides will speak for itself.  Their logic will be irrefutable.  Their audience will clap and cheer when they finish. Wrong!  Wrong!  Wrong!

Audiences need to be engaged.  The presenter’s job is to communicate their message to their audience so that the audience understands the message – and is prepared to take action as a result of that message.  If PowerPoint can help you to achieve your goal, use it.  If not…?  Well, it is less addictive than sleeping pills.


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