Highly influencial: PowerPoint

The opportunity to present facts, figures, slides, graphs, data and numbers
proves too much for some, and often enough information is crammed into
PowerPoint to fill a phone book.

However, the aim of any presentation should be to command the undivided
attention of your audience.
When Barack Obama delivered his inauguration address in Washington DC, he didn’t
ask the million-strong crowd in front of him to direct their attention to slide

And for centuries, politicians, leaders, and academics have given rousing
speeches without so much as a glimpse of a screen.

I’m not sure how well Churchill would have fared if he’d actually said: ‘We
shall fight them on the beaches – like this one shown here for illustrative

PowerPoint has its place and is often a wonderful resource, but it needs to
be used appropriately. The brain doesn’t listen and read at the same time. If
you’re talking and there’s a slide up with text and data, no one will be
listening to what you’re saying.

With slides you need to remember that the audience will not be concentrating
on you. And if they aren’t concentrating on you, they certainly won’t remember
your points or be influenced by what you are saying. Ask yourself, who have they
come to see? You as a highly competent accountant or you as a highly-paid slide
show operator?

Also ask yourself if the slides are for your benefit or the audience. If the
slides are really your notes, don’t use them.

Yet if you need to use slides, just allow your audience time to take the
information in. Keep sentences short, provide only key points on your slide, and
limit punctuation and abbreviations. If used, use them sparingly, especially
those containing only words. Introduce the slide before you show it, have key
data highlighted and give the audience a chance to read the data before talking
over the slide (remember they can’t read the chart and listen carefully to you

If you do use slides, keep them to a minimum. The number of slides depends on
the length of your presentation, but the fewer the better, or impact is lost.
Consider including the odd blank slide which will ensure you regain the focus of
attention. Or go without them entirely. You need to shine, not the screen…

Jack Downton is the managing director of
The Influence

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