I was asked to give a talk to a group of potential clients the other day. They reckon public speaking is a fear worse than death for many people. The thought of speaking didn’t faze me. It was the accompanying powerpoint I had to create that had me worried.
I recalled, with a shiver, a drug education presentation at my kids’ school. This wasn’t death by powerpoint, it was genocide by powerpoint.
Dozens of text heavy pages rolled on as the plastic chair dug further into my back. In desperation I started following the powerpoint page numbers … 69, 70 …blah blah blah. I couldn’t walk out. My reputation as a caring parent would be ruined … 78, 79. Finally it was over. I couldn’t wait to get home and open a bottle of wine. Ironic, eh?
It was the worst use of powerpoint I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen some stinkers. Naturally, I wanted my talk to be better than the drug one.
Most powerpoint presentations aren’t that bad, but they aren’t that good either. They’re just there: the speaker’s notes writ large and stuck on the wall. Yawn.
Then I remembered another powerpoint presentation that couldn’t have been more different. It was given by my great mate Troy. Troy is a copywriter, but one with a strong visual sense. He took the usual powerpoint and turned it on it’s head.
He didn’t want people gazing at his notes, he wanted people listening to his words.
He decided that the big screen would show mostly pictures to add a counterpoint to what was being said. He spent hours finding just the right shots to fill the screen. The images were big and arresting. They added to what was being said. They broke the talk into digestible chunks.
Text would be as rare as a diamond rather than as common as gravel. It would act as chapter headings to remind the audience what the focus of each section was about.
I’m sure you’ve guessed that Troy’s presentation was a triumph. It was the best powerpoint most of us had ever seen.
So I just stole Troy’s technique.
My presentation took a long time to plan, write, find shots, practise and memorise. But it worked. It worked as a delivery of facts and more importantly it worked as a memorable piece of communication.
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