Slow Death by Power Point

by Colin
(United Kingdom)

Hello Susan,

Thanks for your news letter, haven't read it all yet, but it's all good stuff!

(Note of Explanation from me, Susan: This feedback from Colin came via my Speaking Out Loud newsletter. I'd included a snippet on the interview with Arte and Ram.)

The business presentation item I was very interested in. In an earlier lfe (not that long ago really) I designed and presented some courses to companies and just before my early retirement I ran some for through Adult Education. So your item about powerpoint resonated with me.

Possibly like yourself Susan, I have had to endure, as a matter of duty, 'a slow death by powerpoint'.
I use it and know it has incredible potential to reach folk but it's so often inappropriately designed! Actually I use the word designed loosely.

I have been involved with so many projects over the years and it seems that the first thing most executives get, when they know they have to present something, is this seemingly irresistable urge to start creating whiz-bang slides.

When I had the responsibility for overseeing the development of a presentation. I would simply stop them, and say, what is it you want to say? What information do you need to impart? What does the audience need?
Let's start with the content, the words.
What a shock it was often!
But seriously,I believe that powerpoint should simply be a visual support, particularly if you have a complex issue to cover.

It's an old chestnut I know, but so many presenters and trainers mis-quote and misuse Prof Mehrabians 1960's Communication Model, and seem to relegate the oral component in communication wrongly to 7% or even less!

Most audieces want to be spoken to and get irritated by irrelevant visual stuff. They know when a presenter is using powerpoint as a crutch or an easy out! But it is used like that so often in the boardrooms all over the world and I have personally often witnessed a presenter or trainer, actually sitting in front of their lap-top monitor and reading the text to their hapless audience!

...So sorry to go on Susan

Anyway, thanks once again for your very interesting newsletter.

So then I asked Colin if I could ask Arte to respond and publish the response for all to share. Yes, was his reply. You can read Arte's below.

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Effective Business Communication
by: Arte

Hi Colin,

What you say is absolutely true. I guess the issues with PowerPoint usage are similar irrespective of industry or profile. Too many presenters get caught up in using them for bringing out the 'best' (!) in PowerPoint rather than in their message.

This is why when we coach presenters we get them to start with their thoughts about what they want to cover in the presentation, which is based on what their audience wants. They do this brainstorming on paper or in notepad. Once they are sure about what they want to say and have a story, then, and only then, should they go on to creating slides, or not as the case may be.

This process ensures that even if they are using slides their focus is not on the design or beauty of the slide but on what they want to say.

Once their thoughts are clear, they can add in the relevant images and diagrams (with animation if required to explain something complex.)

We strongly advocate the use of diagrams and visuals in business presentations rather than irrelevant photos or bullet-point text. This ensures that the slides complement and don't replace the presenter's speech.

Hopefully, this process of thinking and putting together the content for the presentations before creating slides reduces the ability of PowerPoint to cause death and destruction.

Arte from Presentation Process.

PS.You can find out more and see Arte's 60 PowerPoint Elements Pack here.

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