PowerPoint Slide Number…

Time to Read – 3 Minutes

You have seen the impact of a full day’s PowerPoint. It’s called audience coma

My three biggest nightmares when I chair a conference…

1. Speaker has 30 minutes, and brings along 40 PowerPoint slides – and then proceeds to spend 10 minutes on the first slide – still, its gold-dust when I give them the five minute warning and they are only half way through…

2. People stand and say they “won’t read everything on the slide” and then do just that – as if to say to the audience “You are clearly not able to read…

3. Slides so full they are unreadable. Again, the presenter will often apologise for this with “I’m sorry this is a very full slide and you won’t be able to read it” Well, DON’T USE IT”…

I was reminded of these, and others, when a team I was working with in Poland recently asked me “the best way for us as a team to stop using power-point”

When I replied “Don’t use it” the next question was “What do you mean?”

For all you PowerPoint users out there, I can share with you how to use it to the best of its abilities: don’t! Throw it away and never use it again.

Unless of course the organisers insist on you using it – in which case, still don’t

Action – Ban PowerPoint in your organisation

With much love
David
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35 Comments

  • DT

    It would have been far more effectice DT

  • DT

    Now that is an interesting angle for its use – partial reprieve

  • Mudassir

    No one likes to read long Word documents (yet people still write and write and write)… I would much rather read a 5 point powerpoint slideset (to cut through the fat and tell me what I need to know) rather than skim read a Word document to draw out the key points.I understand some people just dont know how to put content into Powerpoint, but believe me, its way better than all the Word documents I keep getting sent to read or review.

  • Caroline Sweetman

    Hi David, I agree with your 'blog'. I find myself spending so much time reading/looking at the slide that I am not listening to presenter. In my experience, it's the end objective that works – e.g. if discussing carbon footprint reduction – just show a photograph of a child/family playing in a meadow! The end result is we don't want to loose this beautiful meadow to yet another motorway, or our wild flowers or our children wheezing and spluttering, it also makes the content 'personal' and anything that we can relate back to our own lives makes me sit up and take note!

  • Alan Berck-May

    Hi David. I attended a workshop in Germany recently where the facilitator used cards and pin boards so you were restricted to using only 1 or 2 words per card and speaking during feedback sessions. The best thing was the sound and feeling of the pin going into the cork – enabled real emphasis

  • Debbie

    When having to give formal presentations, which includes data such as numbers or illustrating a visual image, if you advocate completely banning powerpoint, what other tools would you advise on using to illustrate the above mentioned information during a presentation?Many thanks

  • Fiona

    I believe it is useful in online communications as long as it is simple and interesting. Working on a global project at the moment and use it to share mindmaps vision boards that have been scanned in. It is not all bad if used innovatively all about balance again.

  • L Hulatt

    I'm surprised that “death by powerpoint” was not used at Guantanamo Bay – imagine the relief it would be to be hooded again after sitting through a 2 hour PP presentation…

  • Madhu Pillai

    I have to disagree with you David. The real professionals use the Power Point to their and the audience's advantage. Your points are valid and I agree that almost 70% abuse or misuse Power Point and thereby they insult the audience.Cheers

  • Kelvin Smith

    Hi David,Good article and gets my vote. I've started to convert and replace my PPT presentations with a new presentation platform called 'PREZI', much more engaging and 21st century. Really helps me to 'tell the story' without getting in the way of actually telling it!Here's to continued successes.Kelvin Smith – Competitive ADDvantage

  • Davidultra

    “The real professionals” – over the last ten years I have seen a handful at most – Larry Hockman is one

  • DT

    Simple handouts, flip charts, film, text, twitter – no point in being “formal” if everyone's asleep?

  • DT

    I agree – a simple picture is worth no power points at all

  • DT

    Ah, next nl week was going to be headed “Ban Word” 😉 the key here is what works and that seems to me to be simplicity and most powerpoints are far from that, but clearly some are

  • Pauline

    Very rarely do we see a PowerPoint presentation designed to do what it should do – which is complement a speaker and provide a diagrammatic representation of what the speaker says in words – otherwise, why not just use Word? PowerPoint would be great if it only contained pictures… I asked someone only last week to put a business case together for the appropriate people after they emailed me an issue that they had…. Imagine the surprise when they cc’d me in to email with a powerpoint attachment that contained nothing but the words they had used in the original email!

  • Paula Fidge

    PowerPoint can be useful when talkiing through technical concepts or as an aide memoire. A whiteboard or flipchart presentation works as well but I would say that you have to be even better prepared.I have come across the attitude in Germany that you can't give a presentation without using PowerPoint!

  • Rosemary

    I hate the way everyone is in a semidarkened room for poeerpoitn when you really need lights on vor everyone to be awake and to see who to targte if they are not loking interested

  • Mike

    Not sure if you've seen this David. It may just make you smile.How not to use powerpoint!! Priceless:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/world/27power…Enjoy, Mike

  • Bruce Hazelton

    As a fervent Mac devotee, banning Powerpoint has always won my vote – use Keynote instead! ;-)No, the problem is not with the software but the lack of imagination of the people who use it. The number of times I've seen a really, really dull Powerpoint by a really, really dull speaker who has put in the most ludicrous transitions in a pathetic attempt to make it interesting.I propose that – rather than taking the standard English line of banning the symptom rather than addressing the cause – instead of talking about banning Powerpoint we should in fact take the boring presenters outside and shoot them. Remove Powerpoint and they will simply bore us with something else.

  • Paul

    I hate power point presentations. As you say David, they are for people who are unable to present and need the help. I have seen you in action. Say no more.

  • Dylan Roberts

    A picture can say a thousand words

  • Phil D.

    Does anyone else recall a saying involving bad workmen and their tools?

  • David Taylor

    Also received this from Diana I agree with you about PowerPoint – thank you for talking common sense (which sadly isn't very common as we all know).I always remember one of the best speakers I know telling me “there is a world of difference between an excellent speaker and someone who presents a slide show”.The only times I think visuals add to a speech are if a graph helps to illustrate an economics or financial point, or pictures which enhance the speech – e.g from the top of Mt Everest, underwater – but only if they are relevant. All good wishes,Diana

  • and Gabrielle said “Oh how we all laughed and LOVED today’s update…. So so true….” Very pleased to have brought some laughter to your day Gabriella.

  • Actually, I once saw a guy from Shirlaws experience everyone's nightmare – his Powerpoint presentation wouldn't run. Everything he was presenting was based around the stock market and we really needed to understand the patterns to get the point he was making. He had to busk it and did 40 minutes without a single slide and I remember it as one of the best, most informative and engaging presentations I've ever seen.I wonder whether he's had the nerve to ditch the Powerpoint since…

  • Jane

    I agree David, get rid of powerpoint. Not a very good tool for people who aren't very good at presenting to people. Those who do it naturally are the ones that I prefer. Anything else seems conrtived.

  • […] What do you think? Share your thoughts now – And thank you for your response to last week’s Ban PowerPoint, we have had over 20 comments, split evenly – join that debate here […]

  • Munish

    I think overcrowded Power Points defeat the objective of some one presenting it. If the audience are going to read the information then the format/platform can be anything – Power Point, Word, PDF, Excel etc. it does not matter – that is an abuse of this tool.However, I have seen very good presentations delivered by some, where there are few key points on the presentation and the presenter elaborates and explains his view of the bullet point and engages the audience and follows the basic presentation principle: [a] Tell them what are going to tell them[b] Tell them[c] Tell them what you've told themA tool like Power Point should not be blamed if some one chooses to abuse it.

  • David Gifford

    As a graphic/visual facilitator I have benefitted hugely from the above malady – having someone draw the presentation in real time is fun to watch (as long as it is not too distracting) and the results can give an audience a different way of remembering the content.But as others have suggested here, anything other than the speaker

  • David Gifford

    oops! Missed a bit!But as others have suggested here, anything other than the speaker speaking can be another barrier to hearing what he has to say.

  • Milty

    It has its place, but use sparingly. Where you need to engage your audience, use flip charts – ask questions, and get the audience to contribute. Always be minimal with PowerPoint – the contents of the slides should just be cues to allow the audience to remember what you say – after all, that's the most important stuff.

  • Nigel Sandbrook

    I attended a business event this year where there were several PPs one after another after another……..As I was asked to speak I made a point of using a flip chart and pen with energy!Feedback has been great one said 'thank god for Nigel'.

  • OMG! This is how it should be done. Seriously, watch this, not only is the subject matter fascinating the execution is brillianthttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc&sns=em

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