There’s an actual political party in Switzerland called The Anti-PowerPoint Party. Don’t believe me? Then check out this website.
I don’t bring this up because I hate PowerPoint. It’s a fine piece of software for creating visuals to illustrate a presentation. But I do think that we need to rethink how we use the presentation tool.
In many ways, PowerPoint has grown beyond an illustration tool and merged with our corporate presentation psyche in ways that hamper our ability connect with audiences and give good presentations. Here are some ideas that will help you with your next PowerPoint deck.
Don’t Use PowerPoint to Draft Presentations
The process of creating PowerPoint slides has merged in our corporate brain with the process of initially creating a presentation. As a result, we’re creating terrible presentations.
Here’s a scene that takes place thousands of times every day in law offices across America. Judy wants to create a presentation. So, she sits down at her desk and opens up her PowerPoint software and begins using the program’s easy-to-use templates to outline her message. Before long, she has created 30 or 40 slides, loaded with bullet-points. She then goes in front of her audience and narrates her presentation from the slides.
About two minutes into her speech, her listeners are busily thumbing their iPhones. Judy has bored her audience with too much detail and too many slides.
In part, because PowerPoint encourages lots of bullet-points and a boring outline format. We need to remember that PowerPoint is a program for creating visual aids, not drafting presentations.
Instead, of turning so quickly to PowerPoint, Judy should have taken out a blank sheet of paper and written down three simple ideas that she really wanted her audience to take away from her presentation. Then she could use PowerPoint as a tool for bringing her presentation ideas to life with graphic images.
Don’t Let PowerPoint Rob You of Rehearsal Time
Next, corporate America is spending so much time creating PowerPoint slides that it’s failing to do the most important thing needed to give good presentations: rehearse.
PowerPoint is a horrible time-suck.
I was on the telephone with an architect the other day who told me that they were consistently losing competitive presentations for new business. When I asked them how much time they spend rehearsing their presentations, they admitted that they didn’t do much rehearsal. But when they e-mailed to me their PowerPoint slides, it was clear that they had spent several days creating gorgeous visuals.
Let’s be clear about something. If it comes down to a choice between PowerPoint and rehearsal, dump the slides. For a 30-minute presentation, use eight to ten slides at the most. Save your time for rehearsal.
Plenty of people are great presenters without PowerPoint. No one is great without rehearsal.
Implement these ideas and none of us will have to join the Anti-PowerPoint party.
Joey Asher has worked with thousands of business people helping them learn how to communicate in a way that connects with clients. His new book 15 Minutes Including Q&A: a Plan to Save the World from Lousy Presentations” is available now. He is also the author three previous books including “How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals That Will Distinguish You from the Competition”, “Selling and Communication Skills for Lawyers” and “Even A Geek Can Speak.”