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.
  • Couldn't agree more, and we produce 5-10 powerpoint presentations for attorneys in CLE's, Trial and mediation monthly!

    While we always promote using white boards, flip charts and exhibit boards… Powerpoint isn't the real enemy, it's how your presentation is built and how you present from it.

    Too many people try to use the presentation to tell the story, not tell the story themselves.

    We recently created an opening statement in powerpoint that contained ZERO bullet points. This kept the jury engaged and listening to the attorney and not reading the screen.

    Take a look for yourself (it's somewhat boring to watch since there isn't any text and no one is telling the story through it).