I know … everyone loves to hate PowerPoint and much has been written about why it’s such a bad thing. Yet everyone still seems to use it. My use of PowerPoint has evolved over the years and I generally follow the Best Practices out there, avoiding too much text, keeping slides simple, using compelling graphics and basically using PowerPoint to emphasize my point – not to make it for me. So recently as a challenge to myself, I made two presentations without using PowerPoint. Both of these presentations were on cutting-edge topics, brand-new presentations for me. This meant they would be challenging to present in any event.
First off – instead of submitting a slide deck for the handouts, I actually produced two case studies / articles. This did require more effort on my part, but instead of telegraphing everything I was going to say in advance to my audience, I actually provided them with a valuable take-away.
When I gave the presentations, I used flip-charts and white-boards to illustrate any points I wanted to emphasize – mostly drawing graphs (one of my economist failings I suppose). I enjoyed this aspect of the challenge, as I was able to bring the ideas to life as I described them. I was also able to move more fluidly to different aspects of the presentation in response to questions, instead of saying “I have a slide later on that shows that.”
The Results:
On both occasions I received very positive feedback. Attendees made a point of coming up to me to thank me for not using PowerPoint. One person said it made them focus on what I was saying, instead of the screen. And instead of having a crutch to lean on, I became even more involved in my presentation. So the quality of my presentation went up for the audience and I had fun getting out of a rut.
The real epiphany came after the conference. Realizing I was the only one not to use PowerPoint made me truly stand-out. It was a definite differentiator, so much that one attendee offered me a job on the spot.
So if you are trying to make your presentations stand out in a crowd, you might try one or two sans the PowerPoint crutch. You will get noticed and you might actually enjoy it.