Sunday, 5 April 2009

A (Power) Pointless World

A presentation without Power Point ? Unthinkable ? Think again.

A business presentation is all about communication of a message. Sometimes slides help in the communication of the message. But more often, you can communicate better without any slides.

The great communicators of the world don't need any slides. Barack Obama, to my knowledge, did not use Power Point in his campaign. And yet, don't we all remember "Yes we can" ?

Here is a recipe for a power pointless, but effective presentation.

  • Carefully consider your message. This must take the maximum time in the preparation (and not the production of slides). What is the objective of the presentation ? What is it that you want to say ? Why should the listener be interested in what you are saying ? What are his concern areas on the matter that he would like addressed ?
  • Consider how you will convey the message. Craft a few sound bytes - these would be the punchlines that the listener would remember after he has left the room.
  • Write down , probably in bullet points, the flow of your talking. Use this as a reference during the presentation (in many cases power point slides carry out exactly this function - they are a prop for the presenter and not for the audience !)
  • At the meeting, draw up the blinds, brighten the lights, open the window, maybe. Make it a bright, cheerful room rather than the semi darkened horror that is required for the other presenters who are using a zillion power point slides.
  • During the presentation go to the whiteboard and write down the two or three numbers or data that you need to present. In most cases that's all the numbers you need.
  • Talk confidently, in a voice, tone and accent that everybody understands. Make eye contact. Smile. Use gestures. Walk around a little bit. Relaxed , confident, sincere, is the key.
That's it. You will often find that this packs more punch. At the very least, its different.

Think about it. People who know exactly what they are saying, people who are passionate about what they are saying, people who are supremely confident of what they are saying, don't need any props. Their words create the magic.

Wanna try the next time around ?


le embrouille blogueur said...

I guess we are so used to (and dependent on) the PPT world that we have never considered the alternative.And I think we need the self confidence to be able to pull it off without relying on the tool.Great post.

Ramesh said...

Yes its not easy - thats how much we have all grown to be dependant on power point. Despite what I've said, I think its a great tool, but instead of being a servant, its become our master.

Chris Jarvis said...

Great series Ramesh! It's hard to find another anti-powerpoint evangelist out there (not that you are completely against powerpoint, just the dependency and substituting slides for content and good presentation skills).

I never (ok, hardly ever) use PPT. For many of the reasons you listed. But mostly because the ability to paint pictures in the mind provide a contextualized idea (the listener works it into the narrative of their mind using what they know and understand) and you are allowed to move away from information to transformation (or at least a call to action).

Good stuff Ramesh. Thanks.

Adesh Sidhu said...

Great points Ramesh.

Good story telling is another feature can help you as presenter in driving your point home. Obama is good at it. So does Steve Jobs. And they are great presenters on stage who have ability to captivate audience - with or without slides.

Ramesh said...

Chris - Thanks for a very good comment.

Adesh - You are right. Weave a story and you'll have the audience eating out of your hand. Kiran Bedi is another such great speaker - have you heard her ?

Adesh Sidhu said...

Yes, not live but on TV. She always speaks from her heart and that helps her in connecting with audience.

Syed Hassan said...

This is very interesting. During my years of interaction with Ramesh at Unilever, have not seen him using a powerpoint presentation in his talks. But even after 2-3 years of listening to his session, am still able to recollect the key message from each one of his presentations. This is true walk the talk..Great Stuff.

Ramesh said...

Thanks Hassan. I am positively blushing !

I've been equally guilty of power point misuse - its almost like a drug that you can't escape being hooked to.

Athivas said...

But, in academia, if I go in without presentation slides, people look down on us :(. Ironically, this happens only in larger institutes. I have felt more confidently delivering the point, when I didnot even take a piece of paper for reference, when I was a tutor back in India!

This series on power point presentation was too good.

Ramesh said...

@athivas - Yes, I believe the ppt has invaded academic culture too. In my days, there was no ppt of course and a great professor could have the whole class hanging on to every word.

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