Anyone who reads this blog knows my viewpoint on PowerPoint in presentations: it's generally used as a crutch by most business presenters to make sure they remember what to say, rather than as a mechanism to add additional clarification and depth to the presentation content for the audience.
So it won't surprise you that I am in violent agreement with author Eric Bergman when he states in his new book, Five Steps to Conquer 'Death by PowerPoint': Changing the world one conversation at a time,
"...slides are not working. They stifle discussion. They impede understanding. They hinder decision making.They crush audience participation. They smother critical thinking. They leave boredom and lost productivity in their wake."
Right on, Eric!
Bergman shows his understanding of the pervasiveness of the PowerPoint epidemic early on in the book by citing ten assumptions that people use to justify their practice of mixing the spoken word and the written word in presentations: [It = PowerPoint]
- Everyone Uses It.
- It's Expected.
- People Have Different Learning Styles.
- A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.
- My Slides Are My Notes.
- The Audience Can Take Notes.
- They Can Share the Presentation with Others.
- People Will Remember Our Key Messages.
- The Focus is Off Me.
- It Saves Time.
Then with stories, examples and research, Bergman debunks each of the assumptions and provides a different perspective.
"Stepping off the PowerPoint treadmill requires courage," says Bergman, and to help guide us in this new direction, he provides a 5 step model:
- Put Your Audience First by tailoring the discussion to the audience's specific needs.
- Structure the Conversation by using a framework to put ideas into context.
- Minimize Visual Aids by questioning the value of each and every slide used.
- Convey Your Message & Personality by creating a relaxed two-way conversational exchange.
- Answer Questions Throughout by keeping answers short to enhance interaction and interest.
Not new advice, but Bergman fleshes out each one of the steps with lots of background rationale and specific suggestions, making them easy to apply. For further illustration he takes a mock presentation [the Barking Dog] and works it through some of the steps.
One thing I particularly liked about the book was Bergman's assertion that audiences should take some responsibility in this epidemic by demanding better presentations. To this end, he includes an "Audience Manifesto' in the final chapter with recommendations on how to communicate it and a downloadable poster at www.FiveStepstoConquer.com/manifesto.html.
Whether this is the first time you're hearing about an alternative to bullet point-laden slides or whether you've already joined the revolution, Five Steps to Conquer 'Death by PowerPoint' will offer you something to make your presentations more compelling.