Presentation Skills

There has never been a bad PowerPoint presentation.

Some people seem to have an axe to grind with PowerPoint, they couldn’t be more wrong.

I recently heard a documentary that was devoted to saying how bad most PowerPoint presentations are. The show aired interviews with people claiming to be expert speakers who didn’t hold back in their wrath for the Microsoft product. I have read articles by presentation trainers telling people they should avoid using PowerPoint. Sadly, they sound like people who don’t know what they are talking about passing on bad advice.

I have never seen a bad PowerPoint presentation, do you think you have?

If you answered yes, please allow me to give you another perspective.

Think of it this way, have you ever seen a bad marker pen presentation? Have you ever seen a bad flip-chart presentation? Have you ever seen a bad video presentation?

You too have never seen a bad PowerPoint presentation but you may have seen presenters who did not know how to use that tool just as you may have seen presenters who can’t write with a marker pen or you have seen a badly made film. It’s not the pen or the camera that’s the problem.

If you are one of those people who think PowerPoint is akin to death by bullet point, think again. Who put the bullet points there? Who threw too many words at each slide? Who used low resolution images that blurred when enlarged on the screen? Who didn’t know how to layout the slide to suit the projected image? Who didn’t check that the format on their computer was incompatible with the venues equipment?

Owning PowerPoint does not make you a great presenter just as owning a top of the range camera does not make you a great photographer. Buying the most expensive marker pen does not make your writing legible just as that blank flip-chart page may not be improved by what you put on it.

The outcome from PowerPoint, just like the outcome from every other tool in the presenters box, is only as good as the person using it. The issue is not the tools themselves but the people who think that being the expert in their field makes them an expert presenter.

The very best presenters take time to study and practice their craft. They are always looking for ways to improve audience engagement. They know how to use voice, imagery and words to best effect. They hone stagecraft and they will always, ALWAYS, leave nothing to chance with technology.

When you see a great presenter using tools like PowerPoint, flip-chart or pen, you walk away reflecting on great content delivered well. When you see a bad presentation, please don’t walk away blaming the tools. What you have seen is a presentation by someone who is hopefully better in their day job than they are as a presenter using tools that become the victim of their inability to use them well.

Whenever you have seen someone drive a vehicle badly did you think, ‘that car is awful!’? Just as you wouldn’t blame the car of a bad driver, please don’t blame tools for a bad presentation.