At the start of this Fall season, I attended an all day training session hosted and led by AAIM Employers' Association. AAIM is a local organization that offers employer networking and professional training opportunities. One of the mini-sessions that I attended was on presentation. Let's call it Presentation Skills 101. Many interesting tidbits were shared and I noted some key takeaways to use for my next presentation. My biggest takeaway from the presenter, Mark G. Moyer is to be careful of using or overusing PowerPoint. But, why you ask? Haven't we all been taught to develop really cool PowerPoints, filled with nice content, moving text, pictures and such? Well here are the three reasons why I've opted to use less PowerPoint.
1. The Audience
PowerPoint presentations cause both you and your audience to focus more on the PowerPoint content, than the message you are trying to portray or the information that you are providing. How many times have you found yourself simply reading a PowerPoint slide along with the speaker? All of the focus should be built around the audience. PowerPoint should just be a tool used in order to help you show information, tell a story or give a message. Never begin developing a presentation by building PowerPoint slides. The presentation itself should be developed and then we should determine whether PowerPoint, handouts or other items are needed.
2. Capturing Attention
"That PowerPoint was amazing! It completely captured my attention! "Said no one. Ever. PowerPoint simply does not catch a person's attention. Many speakers, including the speaker at AAIM, raised the point that a good presenter must always get the audience's attention early. Suggestions on how to this included the speaker telling a relevant story, giving a quote or asking a question of the audience. Never did he say, wow the audience by showing a slide. It just doesn't do the job.
"You need a slide for each minute of your presentation". Have you heard this one before? Well, this is one myth that the presenter quickly dismantled. For an hour presentation, does it really make sense to make you and your audience go through 60 slides? Of course not! But when you think about it, PowerPoints quickly tend to get filled with unnecessary slides. Header slides, bullets slides, picture slides, data slides, you name it! You end up with a presentation filled with useless content that seems to have no end. When you build a presentation then use PowerPoint as a resource to enhance certain points, there won't be as many slides. And your audience will thank you for it.