Nov 18, 2012

3 Things PowerPoint is NOT

#1 PowerPoint is not a tool for document creation
#2 PowerPoint is not always necessary
#3 PowerPoint is not the most important thing in your presentation

These views are from the book Presentation Zen (by Garr Reynolds). It is the most popular book on presentations and a must read. Let us understand what Garr has to say about the three things above.

#1 PowerPoint is not a tool for document creation

Look at any slide deck and you find a long list of bullet points in 12 size font. We use PowerPoint as if it is a report creation tool. What happens when we present our slides like this? "Death by PowerPoint." Intense suffering. Everyone hates sitting through a presentation. It is because we put up a slide and then start speaking. Our audience is reading the slide and also trying to listen to us. It's all a mess.

The Solution: Give a document to your audience which contains everything you want to say. Free your slides from text. Make it highly visual with very few words per slide. This way, the audience will not waste time reading your slide. They will focus on you and listen to you.

#2 PowerPoint is not always necessary
You need to make a presentation always means you need to come with slides. That's not true. Most of the popular TED talks have no slides at all. Just because you are asked to share your thoughts does not mean you will need a slide.

The Solution: Slides amplify your idea. If slides will really help you make your argument better or narrate your story better, use them. If not, present without them.

#3 PowerPoint is not the most important thing in your presentation
Most of us put PowerPoint above us. We feel the slides are why the audience has come. This view needs to change. The audience has come to listen to you and not to see the slides. If you have slides, use them as a support. You are the focus of your presentation and not the slides.

Presenters who switch off the lights when presenting suffer from this problem. By switching off the light, you make yourself useless. Keep the lights on and take centre stage.

If you ask any of the following questions, you are asking the wrong questions.

Q. How many slides should my presentation have?
Q. How much time should I spend on each slide?
Q. Which font is better for a presentation?
Q. Should I use animations and transitions?
Q. Should I use Keynote or PowerPoint or Prezi?

Worry about these questions at the last. What matters first is what you have to say (your message) and how are you going to say it so that it is memorable and effective.

PowerPoint is just a tool to help you present better. Use it properly.

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