Here’s what we know …

  • Less is more.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words.
  • Microsoft named it PowerPoint, not EveryPoint.
  • Slides are a visual aid for the audience, not a script for the speaker.
  • Visual aids are meant to reinforce and illustrate, not narrate.
  • Screen + darkened room + speaker taking time to boot up technology = naptime.
  • Slides + bullet points with sub bullet points + handouts + speaker = audience overload.

Nonetheless, PowerPoint is to meetings as negative campaigning is to elections: something we don’t like but feel helpless about and resign ourselves to accepting; something we complain about, but rarely take steps to change.

Soooooo, just a few SmartMouth ideas for changing it up:

Write on a whiteboard or giant sticky notes for visuals. It’s animated and dynamic; it’s as though you’re engaging the audience in the process of creating your “slides,” which is far more entertaining and memorable for them.

Use video footage instead of slides when and if you can. People love to watch TV! There’s so much available out there (YouTube, etc.), and it’s easy to embed a video into a traditional PowerPoint presentation.

Think about creating slides that use one word or one sentence to capture the “so what?” of your points. You should know your stuff well enough to be able to speak to the topic without needing to read a paragraph off the screen anyway. If you don’t, that’s a whole other problem, isn’t it?

Be brief. Be animated. Be present. Be engaged. Be open to a dialogue with your audience. If you do all that, you might not even need visuals. Brevity is so impactful just on its own.

Be adaptable! Be open to shutting down the PowerPoint if you notice you’re losing your audience. When all else fails, connect with the people in your audience. It’s all about them anyway. Don’t kill them with your slides just because you worked hard on preparing them. It’s not all about you!

The word “presentation” is not automatically synonymous with PowerPoint. You have choices …

Beth Levine