Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Whats the obession with Power Point

I have given presentations all over the country in the last ten years and it appears from incidental evidence that power point is the preferred method. The issue it seems is that people either :

A. Use a precanned version


B. Have to much information on the Slides

The pre-canned versions are the worst because how are you going to actively engage your audience. The human mind operates much faster than the spoken word so if your giving the same non engaging speech that you gave in Tulsa last week than your audience is day dreaming about Tampa.

Certainly Visual Aids are effective for the retention of information as illustrated by the chart below Chart From OSHA Office of Training and Education

The to much information crowd believes that your going to carefully read and digest all 400 words on each slide and it relieves them of the responsibility of having to learn the information.The best pratice is to use a blended model of both visual aids and an oral presentation.

Guidelines For best practices with Power Point

Talking points only on the Slides. The slides should not fill entire book. The information presented is really purely for visual effect to keep the persons mind from wandering off topic to far.

Encourage questions. People are more likely to share their ideas and feelings when others think them important.

Talk patiently. People think faster than they speak.

Avoid Slide gimmicks. Avoid putting in slide transitions that do nothing but stall older computers and hurt people’s eyes. It may be tempting to show that you have put a lot effort into your work but this is the wrong place it should be in the delivery not the special effects.

Let me give you example of how even if an audience is engaged then they will remember you even the message is long forgotten. I gave a speech using PowerPoint to about a thousand recruiters. The night before I studied the information and tailored my presentation to that audience. The issue that arose was that I had never spoken to such a large group before sitting at attention in dress uniform.

I was nervous and it showed so I opened up with a bit of brevity about not having seen so many people in uniform since basic training. This was not something that a large group of trained presenters found amusing as an opening. The recruiters were nice enough to remind me( I had been out of the service for 15 years) that classes were started with "Good Morning class/group".

Years later I was at the senior enlisted academy for the army during in processing reviewing education records when a soldier kept staring at me as he was waiting. I asked him " do we know each other?" He laughed " Yes, you made the worst introductory joke in education Ive heard in years but you know your stuff." A few hours later I gave a short presentation to the class of 2007 on education that of course started with Good Morning Class.

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