Where's The Power – And What's The Point?

Felix Thomson

Content Executive

The Financial Services Forum

A sledgehammer is a great tool, but only when used for the job it is designed for. The same is true of presentation software, as Liz Banks relates.
It’s Friday afternoon, and you are about to watch a colleague’s presentation. As the lights dim and the dull purring of the projector lulls you into a semi-comatose state, feelings of despair begin to take over, as the presenter introduces his thirty slides. You brace yourself for the endurance test that lies ahead. Recognize the scene? It is becoming increasingly common in the business environment, and we now
need to take stock and ask what the purpose – and point – of PowerPoint is.
At first, it seemed to be the answer to all our concerns. For the less experienced presenter, it became a great way to put a slide-show together, its neat gadgets and easy-to-follow structure offering a “quick-fix” solution to presentation anxieties. All the user had to do was to “deliver” the slides.
So why, then, doesn’t the audience always enthuse about it in quite the same way? And why do so many people who attend my workshops want to know how they can engage better with their audiences, and why their audiences often seem indifferent or even uninterested in what they are trying to present?
One reason, of course, may just be that the topic is deadly boring, but our experience suggests that there are some more worrying and fundamental causes of this emerging reaction.
For example, too many presenters – and these days there are many more presenters, in part because the very availability of presentation software encourages more frequent presentations – seem to regard “delivering” as being synonymous with “reading aloud”, or even “hiding behind”.
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