PowerPoint has historically been an effective way to engage audiences and add a certain WOW factor, but modern audiences have, quite simply, seen enough to last a lifetime. In saying that, used wisely, PowerPoint can usefully reinforce key messages if you don’t fall into the trap of thinking ‘more is more’. Having attended more than 650 conferences in more than 30 countries, I’ve sat through more ‘deathby-PowerPoint’ sessions than I care to remember. But from this experience, I have identified four key errors in the use of PowerPoint – errors that cross cultures,
demographics and industry types.
1. You are the true visual aid
Imagine yourself talking to a group of friends. Would you read from notes and point to a screen? Of course not.You’d look them straight in the eye as you spoke. Study footage of truly masterful presenters such as Barack Obama and you’ll see that they look at their audience. Eye contact engages people. It conveys sincerity and confidence. Every time you put on a new slide you are telling your audience, ‘Don’t look at me, I’m not important, look at this.’ Really? If you’re not important, what are you doing there? Presenting is a privilege and an honour, but standing in front of a live audience is no place for false modesty. If your goal is to share a message of substance, success begins by having the audience focus on you, the messenger.
2. Drop the token images
Poor presenters use images that have no personal connection to themselves or to their audience. Just because an image is high definition and taken by a professional photographer, doesn’t mean it adds value to your presentation. If, for example, you wish to show that your organisation is multicultural, don’t download an image of nameless strangers smiling for the camera. Instead, find an image that is real, one that has genuine relevance to the people in your audience. And if you don’t have such an image, then go without!
3. Say what?
Poor presenters cram slides full of too much information in a font that is too small to read. You’ll know this is happening when you hear the presenter say, ‘You probably can’t read this,but …’ or ‘If you can’t read this, it doesn’t matter …’ As frustratingly illogical as these types of statements are, what’s even worse is when a presenter is oblivious to the fact that apart from the people in the front row, the majority of their audience cannot read what’s on the screen at all.
4. Prepare, prepare, prepare
Rather than take the easy option of puffing up your presentation, invest effort in preparing so well that you can maintain eye contact with your audience from start to finish as you roll through your key points using stories and real-world examples to engage your listeners.
About the Author:
Listed by BRW as one of Australia’s top ten professional speakers Rob Redenbach is the best-selling author of What I Didn’t Learn at Harvard.
Rob is a keynote speaker at the the 9th Annual PCOA Conference and Exhibition, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, 27 – 29 November 2016
Article published by Executive PA Magazne