It is ironic that you can give a more powerful presentation without a PowerPoint since the word “power” is in the program’s name. Previously, I’ve discussed whether you even need a visual aid. Last week when I was working with a client to prepare his team for an upcoming bid presentation, we had a good discussion to determine if they need to create a PowerPoint.
Until the 1987, PowerPoint didn’t exist and the idea of a visual aid meant using a poster or prop. Think about the great presentations of modern times – Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream”, John F. Kennedy’s “What Can I Do For My Country”, and Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and every State of the Union all had one thing in common – powerfully delivered presentations without the use of a visual aid. So why do 90% of business presentations today include a PowerPoint? [My estimation, but many sources say 30 million PowerPoint presentations are given daily worldwide so my percentage may be low.]
Most presentations use a PowerPoint because they think they have to and because they are lazy. Obviously, you don’t have to use a visual aid. You should use a visual aid only when it helps you share your message, helps you engage your audience, or helps your audience visually what you’re saying. All three reasons have something big in common, helping your audience. Don’t use a PowerPoint because you’re too lazy to practice and learn your presentation.
Great presenters are always audience-centric, meaning they focus on their audience’s needs over their own.
Why Skipping the Powerpoint Gives You More Power
- Reduces Your Fears – When you look at your audience, you see humans which will calm your nerves, usually within two minutes.
- Audience Focuses on You – Since you don’t have a screen or poster for the audience to look at, they look at you. Even if you’re a bit fearful, their eyes on you is a good thing. You’re the expert that they want to hear from, otherwise, they wouldn’t be there.
- Less Annoying as a Speaker – Many presenters that use PowerPoints spend more time looking at the screen and reading their visual aid than engaging their audience. When you read from the screen, you annoy your audience because they can read faster than you can speak. If your audience is reading your slides, you are either interrupting them or useless if all of the information is on the slide.
- Engage Your Audience – Looking your audience in the eye and have a conversation instead of looking at your visual aid and potentially reading it.
- Audience Pays Attention to Your Words – Because the audience is focused on you, they pay attention to your words even more. Also, you are usually more careful in your word selection because you’ve practiced and rehearsed more. Since your audience is more attuned to your words, they are more engaged and will remember your message more.
- Create a Relationship with Your Audience – Because of all the reasons I listed above, you’re more likely to create a one-on-one relationship with your audience, even if you’re speaking to hundreds of people because you’ve removed the barrier (the visual aid) and they’re solely attuned to you speaking. As a thought leader, this is powerful!
Now, PowerPoints are not evil. They have a time and place; use them when it helps you share your message with your audience. If you need a visual aid, but still want to maximize the impact of certain sections of your presentation, try turning off the projector at that point. If you can’t turn off the project, just insert a black slide into your PowerPoint. All eyes will be on you when the screen goes blank.
If you haven’t done a PowerPoint-less presentation in awhile, try it and pay attention to the difference.
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How Speak Simple Can Help You
Win more work, increasing your billing rate, and prospects coming to you are all results of being an excellent presenter. Erica Olson created Speak Simple to help technical professionals to become comfortable presenting and excel at each presentation, whether a bid presentation or an educational, content marketing presentation. Learn more about Speak Simple’s flagship program is SpeakU, a self-guided presentation training program.