When PowerPoint was first it came on the market it debuted as program called “presenter”, but a trademark violation led its developers to change the name to PowerPoint before MicroSoft bought it. The software giant put the software on the market as a presentation tool, not as a presentation. Over the years, too many professionals overlook that simple, but powerful concept. PowerPoint and Mac’s Keynote are tools designed to help improve your presentation, not tools that should become your presentation.
You and your content are the soul of your presentation. PowerPoint serves you—not the other way around.
Too many people, when facing the task of building a presentation start with building their PowerPoint. Try a different approach next time. Start with these questions instead:
- What’s the purpose of this presentation?
- How will I know if this presentation succeeded? Will it lead to more sales, better morale, increased involvement? Set specific measureable goals.
- What does my audience look like? What are the points of commonality shared by the people in the audience? Are they all from Texas, all managers, all Ivy League grads, etc.?
After you have that framed up, then dive into the content, beginning with the three key points, the key concepts you want to build your presentation around.
Once you have your presentation outlined, ask yourself how you would deliver the presentation if PowerPoint didn’t exist:
- Would you use models, posters, props and other low-tech support?
- Would you get more people in your audience involved in the presentation?
- Would you spend more time making eye contact with your audience?
I call those low-tech, high-touch multi-media. PowerPoint is high-tech, low-touch. They both have value, but if you rely too much on high-tech, low-touch you’ll find it very hard to make an emotional connection with your audience.
Once you’ve done that, then start determining where PowerPoint slides help support your presentation.
Finally, try cutting the number of your PowerPoint slides in half, and watch your results improve.
There’s nothing wrong with PowerPoint, but most people either use it incorrectly or use it too much. The soul of your presentation is about ideas, actions, and measureable outcomes, not the next slide.