More and more Powerpoint plays a significant role in our presentations. At our workshops we are often asked for tips on using Powerpoint. The common comment we hear is “The company gives us the Powerpoint presentation and we just have to give it.” How easy is that! Well, actually it’s not so easy. In fact it could be the beginning of the common phrase “Death by Powerpoint”.

Let’s look at some of the issues with being given the Powerpoint presentation. On the positive side:

• you don’t have to put it together yourself,
• all the information is there,
• it will be professionally done,
• you just have to add your comments.

All very valid comments and if all goes well that would be the end of the issue.

However, it very rarely goes well. Here are some of the pitfalls of receiving a pre-packaged Powerpoint presentation, especially for novice presenters:

Lack of familiarity with the content – because it is pre-packaged there is a reliance on just reading the slides. You may not get the Powerpoint presentation early enough to practise with it.

Assumption that it will be done professionally – mostly they will be fine. However I have seen some that were not so good. One Powerpoint presentation that was handed to a presenter was 200 slides – for a 30 minute presentation! Some have had too many animations – arrows going everywhere, points flying in from all sides. Slides have been unbalanced and templates incorrectly used.

Presentations are generic – the Powerpoint may contain slides that cover all issues but may not be appropriate for all audiences.

So as a presenter how do you avoid the “Death by Powerpoint” tag when given a pre-packaged Powerpoint presentation?

Firstly remember the PowerPoint is not the communicator – it should be the assistant. Never forget that you the presenter are the star of the show – the PowerPoint is just an adjunct. It is People that inspire and motivate People. It is you who will need to make your listeners aware and create a willingness to decide one way or another if they want to buy into your message. Computer generated slides can never do that for you.

Never rely just on the slides – know your presentation material. Allow yourself time to go through the slides and if possible practice the presentation. Become familiar with your material. Don’t read the slides – they should be used as a prompt for you to present the material.

If you are one of the unlucky ones and you receive a not so good Powerpoint presentation it will depend on how much input you are able to have as to whether you can arrange to have the presentation modified. Be diplomatic you don’t want to cause a war between departments. You may or may not be able to change the slides yourself –it will depend on your company policy. If you can work with the creators do so if not make judicious use of the slides you have.

Know your audience and know what the required outcomes are. Is the presentation a training session, is it for sales to customers and clients, is it an information session for staff. When you know the answers to these questions then you will know how to present the Powerpoint to achieve the outcome. You may not need certain slides – you can skip these or use the “B” hotkey.

When an excited and enthusiastic presenter knows how to use the PowerPoint tool correctly there is magic in the air. The PowerPoint informs and the speaker connects. It is the perfect communication – but it is not often seen.

Far too often the Slide Show becomes the presentation – don’t let this be you. Take time to know the material, know the presentation, and know your audience. Know your skills as a presenter and use them. Not confident then come along to a Trischel Presentation Skills Workshop and become confident.

Trish @ Trischel

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