Use & Abuse of Visual Aids

Visual Aids

Use & Abuse of Visual Aids

Motivational speakers cause a change in people’s actions, attitudes and lives. Some of the best speakers of our time including Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Sir Tony O’Reily realise that real impact comes from the human touch.

It is a proven fact that our ability to persuade is a function of the best combination of words, voice and body language. Our choice of words however has far less impact than the perfect voice and appropriate body language.

So why do so many of us have to endure presentations where the speaker has handed over almost all the power to persuade to computer software? Well, simply because, the speaker has become accustomed to the belief that a high-tech presentation has a greater ability to persuade than a human being. Not the case.

PowerPoint serves you best when it is switched off!

People who open PowerPoint the moment they decide to create a presentation are starting from the wrong place. Planning comes first. Decisions such as my own viewpoint on the subject, the mindset of the audience, what action I wish the audience to take and why, are key decisions of the speaker. The best speakers make these decisions before writing a word. Starting with PowerPoint will stifle original thought and creativity. Best to start with pencil and paper.

Remember, the purpose of a presentation is to highlight key points and bring the audience to your point of view. The presenter is the storyteller, the focal point and PowerPoint is the supporting act, not the crutch. Some companies including Hewlett Packard and Computer Associates have seriously restricted the use of PowerPoint for presentation purposes. They prefer the human touch.

Last month, I was working with a team of senior executives in Germany. Most executives agreed that limited use of PowerPoint in European markets is now the norm. My experience in Ireland has been the opposite. We tend to bombard the audience with a multitude of slides that are frequently incomprehensible and distract and even irritate the audience. Sometimes, speakers then proceed to produce slide handouts (you know the ones – three per page). Almost impossible to read and in any event, since when did we start reading by slide and not by written word? Are national newspapers printed in slide format? Best to prepare a written document with some additional insights.

Don’t let the machine control YOU!

Recently, a client of ours was asked to present, as part of an interview. As regards using PowerPoint during the presentation, we advised minimal use. Otherwise, by using text slides with perhaps endless amount of detail, would have risked coming across insincere and lacking in confidence. Not the criteria to win the next promotion.

On another programme, I asked one presenter to do three presentations. The first two were without PowerPoint. Our subsequent coaching session focussed on improving body language and voice. The impact was sensational. Unfortunately, when it came to the third presentation with PowerPoint, all the bad habits returned. The presenter became controlled by a machine and lost the human touch. The new standard was reversed! Has this happened to you?

The best presenters use PowerPoint sparingly by adhering to some basic rules. If you want to do the same and leave a lasting impression, here’s how:

  • T shirt test – If you can’t fit the words on a T shirt don’t put them on a slide
  • Reveal item by item – stage the appearance of components with you leading the content
  • Saying Vs Showing –check what the slide will actually show ,not necessarily what it will say
  • The Master slide – use one that ensures consistency and adaptability
  • The Blank slide – use it by pressing the “B” or “W” button on your PC
  • Say NO to High Tech slides – keep it clear & simple to reinforce key points.
  • Never start or finish with PowerPoint – first and last impressions must be YOU
  • Use Pictures – check out Shutter Stock
  • No Slide handouts – write out the text and put in some additional insights.
  • Less is more –no technology can replace you, you are your best visual aid

If you would like to learn more, please contact us.

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