When and Why to Use PowerPoint
Though PowerPoint is everywhere these days, it doesn't
have to be - and in many cases, it just plain shouldn't
be. People use PowerPoint too often as a crutch -
they don't want to put in the effort to really know their
presentation, and instead lean on the slides, basically
just reading them to the audience. This is a really
fast way to lose all of your charisma as a speaker!
So, to decide when and why to use PowerPoint, consider the
Concepts - Ideally, PowerPoint
is good to display information that would be difficult
to merely verbalize. This includes visual
information like structures, trends over time,
photographic examples, diagrams of processes or
models, etc. These things absolutely justify the
use of some kind of visual aid. For example,
explaining how a rotary engine works would be next to
impossible without some kind of visual aid - ideally,
an animation! Make sure to think about how to
present any given visual concept most effectively -
more about this in the Content
Bring the Audience Closer -
When applicable, it's great to let an audience more
fully appreciate a topic by bringing it closer to
them. This mean showing photos, playing sounds
or videos. This is especially important in
vacation or venue presentations, where judgments or
opinions will be based on as close an experience as
possible to actually being there.
Major Points - If you're
determined to have text slides in PowerPoint, make
sure it's only to reinforce major points. Don't
just list every single thing you're going to say as a
bullet point - that's a LOT of text, it's very
distracting, and it'll make your delivery turn to
mush. Keep sharp, and don't depend on your
slides as a crutch!
Business Precedent - Many
PowerPoint presentations are meant to serve two
purposes: they're an aid for the presentation,
but also a replacement or reminder of the
presentation for anyone who missed or forgot it.
This is common in business! "Oh, I couldn't
make it to that meeting, but just forward me the
slides." Ugh. But if this is the case
for your presentation, I ask this: consider
making the slides purely visual, and put the important
spoken content in the "notes"
section. They won't actually appear on the
slide, but they'll be printed out with the slides (as
long as you have them set to do that).
"B" and "W"
Keys - It's possible (in fact, likely) that not
ALL of your speech will be a good match for
PowerPoint. That's okay! Just make sure
not to try to use slides for parts of your speech that
aren't right for them. Instead, turn PowerPoint
off - and it's easier than you might think. The
B key turns the screen black; the W key turns
the screen white. Use whichever is most
appropriate for your venue, when you don't need
anything onscreen. It's that easy - you just
have to be brave enough to do it...
Excellent, you now have a feel for when and why to use
slides for your presentation; let's move on to how to pick
a good Style....