It happened again. I went to a presentation and the speaker read his slides to us. ALL OF THEM! IN DETAIL. Argghhh! I can understand why many in the corporate and military worlds have gone as far as to ban PowerPoint presentations.
So what’s the deal about presentations where the speaker reads his PowerPoint bullets to everyone?
I’ll tell you the real issue, and it is not the slides. It is a basic communication problem. Too many people believe that a set of illuminated images equals good communication. It is not, these slides are only a tool. Crappy presenters misuse this type of tool because it is easy to defer to the big screen. For a number of possible reasons, they have decided to let the slides replace them as the presenter. Boy have they whiffed on this approach, for what they have really done is disrespect their audience in plain sight.
Does banning the use of presentation slides cure the problem of bad presentations? Maybe it does force a few people to actually speak with an audience instead of “at” them. However, I say that until a speaker makes the effort to engage and honestly converse with an audience, they will simply misuse other tools, including microphones, podiums, dry erase boards, hand-outs, and notes.
Maybe they simple now read the slides without showing them to you. Or they now draw out the slides by hand as they speak. At least before I could have quickly read the slides and then amused myself on my smart phone or daydreamed until the speaker caught up.
The problem of failed presentations is not the slides. It is the speakers. Many great speakers use slides. Most of us respond well to visuals, provided they are appropriate, well used, interesting and not just a crutch for poor communication skills. The right slides can guide your audience along your story, path, or point.
Just remember to speak “with the audience, not at them.” We’ll appreciate it and we’ll remember you for more than the boring speaker with the tedious slides.
Glenn S. Phillips is the author of the book Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Yourself. You can email Glenn directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Glenn is also the president of Forte’ Incorporated, a consulting firm that works with business leaders to understand and address the often hidden technology and business risks lurking within their organizations.
© Copyright 2012. Glenn S. Phillips, Forte’ Incorporated. (205) 985-1111