- “My audience expects me to use PowerPoint”
- “Everyone else does boring PowerPoint, but I am different”
- “I can’t give a talk without slides”
- “I hate PowerPoint”
PowerPoint can be a powerful aid to your presentation or it can be a huge distraction. Many speakers mistakenly believe that audiences expect or want PowerPoint. Most audiences have seen PowerPoint used poorly so many times they tune out before the projector is even turned on.
PowerPoint is a visual aid: a tool to visually show what the speaker is saying in words. Used properly, it supplements your words and helps the audience understand a concept. Used improperly, it distracts and bores audiences as they tune-out the presentation and take a mental holiday.
The words spoken and the images shown should be carefully selected to achieve a specific objective. A speaker needs to carefully decide what to say as well as what not to say to bring the audience to the desired end. The visual aids presented should compliment, not duplicate, the words.
Some common mistakes speakers make include:
- Projecting their notes or entire script on the screen
- Showing pictures or images not related to what is being discussed
- Using graphs and charts with too much detail
- Believing the slides are more important than the spoken words
Each image shown as well as each word and line projected should emphasize, illuminate, or illustrate what you are saying. If it does not, it becomes a distraction.
PowerPoint can effectively:
- Display an image to help the audience understand what you are saying
- Highlight key words or phrases to focus attention
- Show pictures that evoke emotion
- Demonstrate trends on charts and graphs
A good presentation is built on a theme or message. The speaker outlines and crafts his words, then looks at what type of visual aid will enhance these words. Picking the correct visual aid and using it properly can be a tremendous asset to a speaker. Using the wrong visual aid, or using the right one in a poor manner, will undermine his efforts.
The speaker’s role is to capture and focus the energy of the audience. Use your visual aids to help you.
© 2009 – This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY. We help people speak effectively and with confidence.
iSpeakEASY offers workshops on Designing Effective Slides, Proper Delivery of PowerPoint, and The Basics of PowerPoint You Never Learned. Write for information.
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