Your slides aren’t the presentation

I sometimes see/hear a presenter who, though they probably don’t realize this, ends up talking in outline form. They’re looking at their outline that’s up on the screen, and they don’t even read the whole screen – instead, they summarize the words of their outlined slide … and end up sounding like a rough-draft outline of their presentation.

Remember this – your presentation is not the slides. And believe me – I spend a lot of time on my slides, to make them as attractive as possible, sometimes to make them funny, and always to have them relate to what I want to say. I DO think slides are important – they work great at conveying information visually.

But I have also realized that the actual presentation is me – it’s the words I say. Even if I’m summarizing something on the screen – I still need to speak clearly, in complete sentences, with a good explanation. A story that summarizes what’s on the screen is even better.

Just something to think about if you present.

  • pscho_yeg

    I would rather listen to a talk with no slides than have slides read to me by a presenter.

  • Roytennant

    Great advice, David, I totally agree. YOU are indeed the presentation, and stories are great — you should always strive to find a story to illustrate your points, as we are hard-wired to engage with stories. We are not hard-wired to engage with outlines.

  • davidleeking

    good point, and agreed.

  • davidleeking

    Yes – I’m discovering that! A story really seems to drive the point home. SO I tend to show an example, or a fact, then provide a little story around that tidbit of info (and probably the slide has something to do with the story).

    It’s working pretty well – and it’s just a lot of fun, too :-)

  • Afewsocks

    I learned about great presenting from you, David! Good stuff!

  • Aubreymm

    Absolutely–I recommend the book, “Presentation Zen” for anyone looking for ideas on how to get away from bullet points.

  • Jarod McAferty

    Agree totally. While I think that the phrase “death by powerpoint is” a bit harsh. It has become the war cry of most presenters out there. It all goes back to what people expect. They go to a presentation and expect to just view some slides and be done with it. Most presenters seem to hide behind their slides and often forget that the reason people attend presentations is the presenters knowledge is being shared. They are not there just to be told whats on a slide.

    This is why I enjoyed watching and participating in PodCamp Topeka as well as Hutchinson’s 140 conference. Almost no one used presentation software. It brought the light back to the presenters and felt more social, authentic, and overall less formal. Which I entertain is one of the reasons for the success of both.

    Again David. Good work. Looking forward to your next post.

  • Jaclyn Mckewan

    This is one of my biggest pet peeves about PowerPoint presentations. People use PPT as their outline, as a way of not having to memorize the speech. They think, “I can just have the slides be my outline, that way I don’t have to remember anything, and I can just paraphrase each slide to the audience as it comes up.”

    What makes it worse is when presenters have the slides double as handouts, and conference organizers even encourage this by asking for a copy of the slides to put online. I’m of the “Presentation Zen” school of thought which is that the slides shouldn’t stand alone without you. So if your slides have enough information to be understood apart from your presentation, they are too wordy. Instead, presenters should make a separate handout if they feel one is necessary, and they should start declining to put them online.

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