Most overlooked point of no PowerPoint

November 22nd, 2009

For a many reasons, there is always plenty of buzz lately about having meetings without PowerPoint. I say one of the biggest reasons is because there is so much BAD PowerPoint being used there is a backlash against this powerful communication tool. I hope with the coming of the new version PowerPoint 2010 it may bring back some of the excitement, ease of use and fun that drove PowerPoint to become a corporate standard in meeting rooms around the world.

One point that is often overlooked in the debate of a meeting with or without PowerPoint is that if used correctly PowerPoint is not just a very powerful visual tool, but a message, content development too.

PowerPoint started out as a simple slide/overhead creation tool for turning an outline into a slide or overhead. A great tool for developing and organizing content, complex information. I would guess most people rarely use this component of the application but jump right into creating slides. Another very helpful too is the slide sorter – another excellent tool for organizing and developing a good story, an effective communication.

I use both these tools for developing content for my own presentations – although I have to admit I often use PowerPoint’s close cousin MS Word outlining function to start.

I recently watched a keynote presentation by a well known, social media rising star. I love reading his blog, and following him in Twitter. His new book is on my next to read list. He spoke for 20 minutes, he had a Twitter flow on the screen behind him instead of the traditional slides. He is big on breaking the old rules, doing things differently.

Because he is brilliant, one of the leading experts in this fast moving new social media driven world, he spoke very conversational, and seemed to keep the audience engaged with some good stories and expert tips. But I thought his overall talk (not a speech), was
interesting, but was rambling and seemed to me like he might have spent not more than 5 minutes planning what he was going to say. It was like a Twitter talk – just short blurbs of sometimes interesting info, but lots of chatter of useless, unconnected flow of 140 character text reading torture.

This speaker pulled off what I would rate maybe a B- keynote- with a lot of extra credit for his star, almost celebraty status – that the average presenter can not count on. If he took the time to enhance his keynote with some powerful PowerPoint visuals, he could have scored an A++ and sped up his star status to rock star and more important delivered to the audience more impactful and memorable information.

Even if he wante to go with the very trendy screenful of Twitter chatter, I believe he would have benefitted greatly by using the PowerPoint outline tool for planning the flow of his presentation – but it takes time and most people like to skip or limit to a minimum
this very important step for any presentation – my favorite four letter word PLAN.

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