Now that every congress- and meeting room is standardly equipped with a projector, Powerpoint-presentations are both used and abused. Especially abused, according to executive-coach Peter Botting. In the hope he might change this situation, he published some ground rules on the use of Powerpoints in speeches and presentations.
First and foremost, you should know what a presentation is. At a presentation you try to transfer information and data to your audience, something in which the visual support of a Powerpoint may be of use. But if you come to give a pitch, introducing a product, service or yourself, you'd best keep that laptop stowed away.
Only if you have to pitch for a really big audience and you have Steve Jobs's talent of promoting an innovative product with a single picture, Powerpoint can be considered an option.
But what about presentations? What if you want to clarify the results of surveys, data-analyses or comparisons? In those cases a well-made Powerpoint can certainly be of help. But the quality of the presentation is crucial. Powerpoint-slides are often dull, incohesive, not very original and are used as the framework of the presentation, instead of as a support.
Peter Botting therefore gives a few ground rules:
- Think hard about which knowledge you want to transfer. Can you summarize it to a maximum of 5 sentences? If you can't, you risk confusing your audience.
- If you cannot draw out your Powerpoint-slide on a big post-it, it is too complicated. Divide the information over two slides.
- If your speech fails as soon as you have a problem with the computer or the projector, you are far too dependent on Powerpoint. Your speech should also work without the slides.
- Don't start your presentation straight away with a Powerpoint, only use it if absolutely necessary.
"Preparing your presentations well will help keep them short and powerful", Botting adds. "That is the only way to efficiently transfer knowledge and ensure that the message is properly received and understood. A Powerpoint can sometimes be helpful, but at the moment they are still too often just dead weight."