Tricia Karp Tricia Karp
19 February 2013

To PowerPoint or not to PowerPoint?

death-by-presentation illustration

I don’t use PowerPoint.

I don’t even know how to use PowerPoint.  That’s a deliberate choice I’ve made.

Why?  Because I want to be the kind of speaker who can engage and captivate my audience all on my own.  I want to tell stories and share them in ways that make people care so that they remember my talk – and more importantly, its message – long after it’s over.

It’s true that people often forget the words you say, but they always remember how you made them feel.  Presentations, in whatever form, are never just about transferring information.  They’re about creating a feeling.  And a feeling lasts.

Back to PowerPoint.  I think the question of whether or not to use PowerPoint isn’t the best question to ask.  It’s this: How can you be the most effective presenter?  One who’s compelling and inspiring, one who influences and persuades?

Effective presentations always incorporate great storytelling.  You don’t need visuals to be a great storyteller.  

You could wear a hessian sack as a dress and no make-up and be the kind of storyteller who has her audience members sitting on the edge of their seats (and not because of what you’re wearing).

Visuals are useful IF they enhance your storytelling.

If they’re designed well, and add to the experience of the story you’re telling, then PowerPoint, Prezi and Keynote have a place.

When you use these tools as a prompter, like a TV studio autocue, or for dumping a pile of data on your audience, you render yourself an ineffective presenter.  I’ve seen so many people rely on these tools and use them like a crutch.  It’s lazy, and it makes for a boring presentation.  I want more for you – and your audience.

Some of the best presentations I’ve seen incorporated photos and videos.  The adage that a picture tells a thousand words is spot on.

You can talk about damage to grape vines by the African black beetle, for example, but seeing the damage – the discoloured and wilting foliage – adds a new dimension.  The photos enhance the story – and the audience’s understanding.  Then, when you make your audience care about the damage, you’re being an effective presenter.  No matter what you’re talking about you have to find a way to make people care.

It’s that simple.

Forget about thinking you have to create a PowerPoint presentation just because that’s what everyone else does (in my daughter’s class – she’s in year 1 at school – there are kids using PowerPoint!).

Dare to get back to basics and what really counts: connecting with your audience.

Own the power of your own voice, stories and presence.  Please, don’t give it all away to a screen.

About the author

Tricia Karp is dedicated to helping women develop their power and leadership through powerful self-expression.  She’s the founder of www.TriciaKarp.com, where she shares her strategies and wisdom for becoming a world class speaker and communicator.

To find out about Tricia’s latest Australian workshop – Unprecedented Confidencecome over here.

Photo credit: HikingArtist

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