Why can you easily recall details from a movie you saw, or a book you read months or even years ago, yet you can’t remember a thing about that presentation you saw last week?
Simple. Because our brains remember stories which tend to flow seamlessly through from beginning to end – particularly stories with emotional appeal.
On the other hand , when someone puts their entire presentation on PowerPoint, what usually happens is that they just keep adding chunks of data until they either think they’ve included everything there is to know about the subject (information overload) or they’ve filled the time allotted (otherwise known as ‘I just want to get through this’).
Computers like their information in neat chunks of data. Humans on the other hand just get bored.
In the previous post I covered how to use Powerpoint the right way, but what are some alternatives to PowerPoint for adding impact to your presentation?
It depends largely on your subject and situation as to what will be appropriate. Honestly, sometimes well thought out slides will be your best option. However, here are some other choices you might want to consider.
WARNING: Most of these were around and working well before technology started taking us down another path. They aren’t as ‘sexy’, but they are effective.
Instead of describing that new product on a slide, physically bring it in and pass it around. Let people see and feel it first hand.
Old fashioned yes, but even if you are bad at drawing there is something about visuals being created as you speak, flowing directly from your brain down your arm and out of a magic marker, that is far more engaging than something that has been pre-prepared on a slide.
One of the most popular TED Talks is “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” by Simon Sinek where he uses nothing but a good old flip chart to illustrate his ideas. This presentation wasn’t even done at one of the main TED events, it was at a small TEDx in Washington State. Despite being at a small event and just using a flip chart for visuals, the popularity and impact of this presentation is massive.
Instead of letting them be observers, get the audience to participate. Ask them questions, get them to share their examples, get them to do quick exercises and activities. Trainers and teachers do it constantly and there’s no reason why the same techniques can’t be applied to other presentations as well.
Stories and analogies
A lot of the time a quick example that demonstrates our point and explains it in a way people can relate to, will do the job perfectly. Another popular speech is Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005. On this particular day he mainly read his speech from notes; there was nothing remarkable about his delivery at all. But the powerful stories he used that day have resulted in millions of people viewing videos of the speech on YouTube.
I hope that you have enjoyed this series of posts on PowerPoint and it’s cousins and they have given you something to think about when approaching your presentations.
Here’s the catch…
In some business environments it will take courage to do something different from the norm and actually have an impact – especially considering it will take some practise to get it right. That’s why most people take the safe path and just do what’s expected, get through it, and everyone moves on with what they were doing without having changed anything. But at least they feel like they did something.
It’s up to you but I will finish with this:
If you have an important message to share, then you owe it to your audience to get this right and connect with them rather than just blend into the noise.
About the Author
David Wise is a communication coach and professional MC based in Queensland, Australia. www.dwise.com.au