PowerPoint Isn’t Your Presentation

by Sharlyn Lauby on July 28, 2011

I recently wrote a post over at SmartBlog on Leadership titled “7 tips to enhance your next presentation”.  It outlines some tips to consider when training, presentation, consultingdeveloping a PowerPoint presentation.

Probably the most important takeaway from the session was “Your PowerPoint deck is not your presentation.”

I was reminded of this during a recent conversation about conference iPhone / iPad apps.  I asked about including the speaker PowerPoint decks within the conference app.  I got a little pushback.  The reasoning was, including the decks with the app meant everyone would have the slides – even the people who didn’t attend the conference.

And I thought…so what?!  The deck isn’t the presentation.  The speaker is the presentation.

That being said, I’m not suggesting that every speaker give their PowerPoint slides away for free.  Creating a PowerPoint deck takes time.  Sometimes it contains a proprietary chart, graph, or image.  Even so, the PowerPoint is not the entire presentation.

Let me know your thoughts on this.  Can you figure out the entire message of a presentation by looking at the speaker’s PowerPoint slides?

Image courtesy of billjacobus1

{ 5 comments }

Paul Hebert July 28, 2011 at 7:17 am

I have no problem giving away my slides. Why? They are pretty much worthless without me. A deck of 30 images with one or two words on a slide that link to some point I’m making won’t do you any good – unless… and here’s the secret… unless you were in the presentation. If you were in the preso – those words and images will bring back the point made. If you weren’t there – they won’t bring back anything.

My goal in developing a deck is to make sure it only makes sense to attendees. If you can pick up my deck and understand what the presentation is about without seeing it presented… I’ve failed.
Paul Hebert recently posted..Just Because I’m a Giver… The Incentive & Reward Compendium

fran melmed July 28, 2011 at 8:29 am

i concur. i post slides from presentations on slideshare. sometimes i’ll even include portions of my notes or links to research. a presentation is the color commentary i bring, the intellectual exchange we have. my powerpoint is a support, a jab or an intro to whatever i’m saying. it’s not what i’m saying.

f

Katherine Razzi July 28, 2011 at 11:14 am

Hi Sharlyn,

To answer your last question of your blog, I think these Power Point presentations are almost as unique as the individual speakers. Power Point is a modern day stage prop and serves as cue cards for those who haven’t memorized all their facts and figures. (sarc)

Depending on how well the deck is put together, it helps us to envision the speaker’s main points, facts, and charts. I agree that the speaker is the main focus of the presentation and should be prepared to go into depth if asked to explain a slide as opposed to letting the presentation do all the work.

As a graphic artist I’ve done plenty of Power Point presentations and I know what you are talking about. As I design and layout the slides as directed by the requester, I consider the view of the audience as well. Many times I wonder if the presentation isn’t enough to put someone fast asleep. My instinct is to add photos or cool graphics in order to alleviate some of the boring facts, figures, charts, and graphs.

As you say, knowing that the speaker is really running the show, it’s up to them to explain the slides in depth, or answer the audience’s questions. Naturally, there are so many situations in business whereby perhaps the presentation needs to be all inclusive to run on its own without a speaker present, or in the event where the presentation needs audio of 15 different foreign languages.

One final comment is that some speakers, no matter what they do, they can be monotone, and drone on and on to the point you start looking at the time and the closest exit and mentally devise an escape plan. In my view, the only thing that will engage an audience held hostage by boredom is for the speaker to have one heck of a colorful, lively Power Point presentation with a few jokes woven throughout it.

Sharlyn Lauby July 29, 2011 at 7:45 am

@Paul – Absolutely, the deck should bring back the story or the point made in the session. PowerPoint can also provide a connection for individuals who enjoy visual learning. Thanks for the comment.

@Fran – Thanks for sharing. I’ve also started including links to additional information and participants really appreciate it.

@Katherine – Thanks for your comment. I totally agree it’s important to keep the audience in mind. For example, I believe the content used in PowerPoint for a training workshop differently than for a concurrent session at a conference.

Nikki March 1, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Great insight here. People always tell me not to give away my best stuff to those who aren’t able to attend our live recordings or seminars. But the fellowship experience and live interaction are where value lies. Slide presentations themselves – although important – only have so much to offer without a speaker to bring the information to life. Thanks for posting :)
Nikki recently posted..How to Make the Most of PowerPoint Timeline Slides and Templates

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