Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

The audience-abuse has to stop.

Time to ‘fess up. Do you think presentations are about PowerPoint with your voice on the side? Do you inflict it go-to-whoa on your audiences? Do your audiences look like hypnotized chickens in less than a minute? Okay, now that I have your confession, here’s what to do about it.

Join the visual aids revolution. Choose to speak mostly without visual aids (yes, just you, directly in front of the audience), using the screen only when a slide directly and specifically illustrates your point.

Here’s how to get started.

Make your first slide completely black

It’s your PowerPoint go-to-sleep slide. It’s the Claytons slide - the slide you have when you’re not having a slide. When you do want a slide up there, say your fourth slide, then press 4 Enter. But as soon as that’s no longer relevant, it’s 1 Enter, back to black. Beautiful. Step right back in front of your audience. The machine is no longer in charge of your presentation, you are. That's authority.

Plan your presentation assuming that you won’t have everything on the screen

If your audience want a record of the whole thing, give them a handout, preferably at the end. Put your speech notes on paper, with slide numbers added here and there. (Never let the screen remind you what to say next. Audiences hate it.)

I know what I’m asking. For most people, it’s a big deal to give up the screen-crutch.

Yet I see again and again how grateful people are when the visual bombardment stops for a cease-fire. We’ve all heard of presenters who couldn’t get the technology going, winged it without slides, then received acclamation for the result.

What’s going on? Why do we humans want less use of the screen?

It’s because we crave full-on connection with the person talking to us. Even in this age of devices and screens, we want you, as a presenter, to be fully engaged with us. Then we’ll welcome the occasional relevant slide. Then we’ll decide that you have credibility and personal authority.

Are you ready to take back control? Return PowerPoint to it’s rightful position as servant? For more detail, you might like to go to my previous blogs on this website, those starting with the words, PowerPoint tip (number).

Join the bloodless revolution. Enjoy the applause from your grateful audiences!

Michael