Monday, February 18, 2013

When using PowerPoint, think like a writer

Many articles and books have been written about how to deliver better PowerPoint presentations. Recently I saw an unusually fine editorial on this topic. I recommend it to anyone who is not already attracting overflow crowds. It’s a Computerworld editorial by Mike Elgan and it’s titled “Give killer presentations: Think like a writer.”
  • Mr. Elgan starts out by saying that most presenters are delivering “soul-killing dreck.” (You and I know he’s right.)
  • Then he asks, “Have you ever wondered how good novelists can hold a reader's attention for hours at a time with nothing but words on a page?”
  • Then, using fewer than 1,000 words, Mr. Elgan tells you “how to apply skills from the craft of writing to make your presentations enjoyable and unforgettable.”
I’ve been a speechwriter for 38 years. I know that nobody has ever told you what Mike Elgan tells you in this editorial.

Want a sample? Here’s one:
PowerPoint presentations usually involve a lot of pretending. The speaker pretends to be excited. The audience pretends to be interested. Everybody is faking it.

Most collections of slides are packed with fake images – stock photography, clip art and other inherently false imagery.
Here’s another:
Most presenters act like their audience is made up of information-harvesting robots, not human beings.
One more:
(One of the reasons most presentations are so bad is that speakers use euphemism and jargon because they think it sounds “professional.” It doesn’t. It’s amateur-hour communication.)
I rarely say, “You gotta read this one.” But I’m saying it now. Read it here.

The Takeaway: In your PowerPoint presentations, you can use the same attention-getting and attention-holding skills that novelists use. Learn how here.

NOTE: I have no business relationship with Mike Elgan.

See disclaimer.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. He made some great points, didn't he? One of the things I got out of it was not to talk down to your reader. Word jumbalaya isn't a necessity to writing well--simple is often best (and better remembered). Another thing I got out of it is that good, simple visuals go a whole lot further than crazy-long descriptions (totally agree with that one!!)

    Thanks for sharing!