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Why PowerPoints are not dead yet!

PowerPoints are dead.

Or are they?

Name one thing you remember from the last PowerPoint presentation you sat through.

(Hint: It could have been your own presentation.)

Microsoft PowerPoints have become more of an assumed way of communicating to a corporate audience. I have seen presentations wherein the need to overdo the beautification existed primarily due to lack of favourable facts. Now that is a tricky situation and surely outside the purview of this article.

Let’s get this straight. The primary motive of using a PowerPoint is to convey facts and ideas. Inclusion of swanky slides and too many images or animation takes the focus away from the presenter and the facts.

Same goes for the Salesmen, Saleswomen, Salestors who present sitting in front of a client. Every client is more wary of the time being spent with a Salestor than how amazing the PowerPoint is.

But I feel that the problem is not with PowerPoint, rather the way we use it. It has been and can continue to be a handsome communication tool to put together facts and ideas, sans the drivel.

The Problems

Consider these scenarios:

We just have to read your Sales pitch from this PPT? I can do it myself

The future of most new client meetings is decided in the first few minutes of the presentation. How many times have you thought of a long PPT in a Sales pitch as a waste of time?

Your PPT has 78 slides!

In most PowerPoint meetings, the first thing you unintentionally do is check the bottom corner for the number of slides. It’s human. PPT’s are made boring with an extra dose of what’s when the focus should be on the why’s and how’s.

Nice image. Is it from Getty?

Too many animations and eye-catching images is a total waste of time and effort. The swankier the slide, the lesser the attention on the presenter.

Sorry, you were saying something?

Simply put, we humans cannot read and listen simultaneously. So all those people who like to write everything on the slides and read from there, none of what you conveyed registered with the audience.

The Solutions

Focus on the Presenter: Personally, I feel the need to include add-on slides like the flow of presentation or index slide, images/animation to convey an emotion in your pitch, or a Thank You slide is a waste of effort. It adds only to the number of slides and no one remembers it.

The focus needs to be on the presenter solely and hence he can take care of all this verbally.

Keep it simple: Presentations (with or without PowerPoints) are meant to be crisp and straight to the point. While you have to weave a story, keep it mostly verbal and short so the audience listens to you, the presenter.

Use slides for facts: It might make sense to display the figures or ideas you want to convey or discuss on the screen, but refrain from writing your speech on the slide and reading from it as it confuses the audience about what to focus on.

PowerPoint Presentations are meant to be just a group of cues for the presenter, not the script.

For every Salestor: For a fresh client, we Salestors can use PowerPoint to display the list of services/products, our widespread geographical presence, the logos of existing clientele, or any ideas that we need to convey to the client. Introduction to the company/product should be rolled out verbally. Since it forms the first part of our pitch, it creates the first impression too.

The way we introduce our company to a new client, or our plans for an existing client, says a lot.

The Narrative: Amazon and Google employed this technique instead of PowerPoints years ago. In the meetings at Amazon, the presenter is asked to circulate a Narrative document, instead of a PowerPoint, detailing the idea, facts and figures in at most 6 pages. The participants spend the first 15 minutes reading and analysing the content of the Narrative and then open up for Q&A.

PowerPoints are nowhere close to being dead, provided they are used judiciously.

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