Wednesday, June 1, 2011

PowerPoint? Please! No More!

Anyone in the business world has been inundated with PowerPoint. Yes, it's a way to convey information, and is especially helpful for data-heavy presentations. Of course it has its place. And I abhor it and use it as seldomly as possible.

Why? The true power of a speaker comes from direct connection with an audience. If they're looking at slides - and you are too - then you're not looking at each other.

If you are an expert and embody what you are saying, the power of speaking is direct transmission. It's an energetic exchange. And for it to work, it requires looking into each others' eyes. Imagine declaring to your significant other, "I love you," while looking at the TV. Not quite the same impact as maintaining eye contact, is it? While a speaking engagement or presentation may be less heartfelt (although it shouldn't be, actually - but many speakers are afraid to truly be openhearted and authentic).

But since I like to push myself test my own theories, I created a PPT deck for a presentation recently at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, speaking on "The Elevator Anti-Pitch." Although I received a very positive response afterward, it was utterly clear that I was far less effective than if I were just speaking as me. Why? Yes, they could follow the flow of the presentation a bit better, and I got to utilize visual humor. But they just weren't engaged. Sure, as I was told afterward, it was the end of the day after a conference, and people were tired. Nonetheless, I just love being a master of engagement, and taking them along for the ride. They learned, but it just didn't live up to the norm for me. Certainly not worth the price.

So the next time you look at using PowerPoint... maybe try an experiment, and don't use it. Or use only a few slides, when truly necessary, with attractive pictures in between. Focus on true connection, and trust that You Are Enough.