I’ve recently been working with a client to help him transform a bullet point heavy PowerPoint presentation into something that supports rather than competes with his clear and energetic delivery style.
His concern was that everybody in his organisation presented using PowerPoint the same way and he was fearful of taking a risk by deviating from the accepted PowerPoint style.
Let’s start by considering what is stopping you daring to be different. Odds are it will be a thought or series of thoughts driving this reluctance which have probably never been tested. Let’s take a moment to consider whether any or all of these thoughts actually have any basis in reality.
1. Nobody else diverts from the standard bullet point heavy formula
- Can you be 100% sure of this? Have you seen every single presenter and presentation within your organisation. if there is any doubt in your mind then the possibility that others in your organisation do sometimes break away from the limitations of the standard format must be real and so if they could so it, so could you.
- How do you know this is true?
- If excuse 1 is really true, then nobody has ever done it before so how can you know if they would be punished or not.
3. Deviating from the standard PowerPoint style is not allowed in our organisation
- How do you know that? Have you every seen it written down in a company manual or memo? Has your manager ever told you this explicitly?
4. It’s too difficult to use images and diagrams rather than lots of words
- You have never done it so how do you know that it will be as difficult as you think? You’ll never know until you try will you?
So why should you dare to be different with PowerPoint?
- Ask yourself what is more important, fitting in or being persuasive?
- If the answering your head is yes, then I ask you to check if this belief is really true.
- Do you REALLY want to be another faceless corporate warrior
- Consider the potential benefits coming from being the person known for giving “different” presentations
- Greater visibility within your organisation
- Increase your chances of promotion
- Set an example for your colleagues
Dare to be different with PowerPoint – How to get started?
- Start small
- I am not asking you to change everything overnight. A great place to start is by reducing the number of words on your slides. Think of your bullet points as headlines rather than full sentences.
- For each bullet point, ask yourself “Do my audience REALLY need to read this as well as hear me say it ? ” If the answer is “no” then leave it off your slide
- Learn how to animate your bullet points so that they appear one at a time allowing you to control what your audience are paying attention to. (see tutorial on link)
- Experiment with fewer bullet points and try replacing one or two with a picture image or graph
- Start in safety
- Familiarise yourself with the research behind the dare to be different with PowerPoint approach
- Start with a small internal team meeting rather than a large high-profile meeting
- Ask for constructive feedback
- Find ways to test whether your messages were understood clearly despite not having been written on your slides.
In a future post I’ll share some examples of before and after slides showing how he could simplify his slides and enhance their effectiveness at the same time. Go on, do your company, your colleagues and yourself a favour – dare to be different with PowerPoint and let me know how you get on.