The Blessing and The Curse of PowerPoint

I attended a day long retreat recently in which various people presented in PowerPoint format.  Out of perhaps ten presentations, two stood out.

The first one that impressed started out with a blank screen, and then dropped in about six bullet points as the speaker got to them in his verbal presentation. This was very effective because the audience was not distracted from him as he talked and the small number of points added gravitas and focus to each one. The second presentation featured a couple of cartoon jokes that broke up the running data which brought the information to life and engaged the audience.

The rest of the presentations were OK, but some of them fell into the usual PowerPoint traps of trying to cram too much information into each slide, being tough to read and not really matching the speaker’s verbal remarks very well.

But the main issue came when the speaker broke eye contact with the audience and turned to read the slides, point by point. Audiences do not like that approach since they can read the slides faster than the speaker, inevitably finishing reading the points while the speaker drones on.

PowerPoint can be a great tool when used as a visual aid . . . not as a crutch. The stars of the show are first, the client, and second, us, as we try to establish personal rapport, something PowerPoints can never do for us on their own.

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