Presentation Trends: Is PowerPoint Making Us Stupid?
"We Have Met The Enemy and He Is PowerPoint," is the title of a hugely popular New York Times article by Elizabeth Bumiller. The article, the 700+ reader comments, and the huge popularity brings up a crucial question: is PowerPoint making us stupid?
According to military commanders, quoted in the article, the answer is emphatically, yes!
"PowerPoint makes us stupid," Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps, the Joint Forces commander, said this month at a military conference in North Carolina."
Brig. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who banned slide presentations…compared PowerPoint to an internal threat.
"It's dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control," General McMaster is quoted, "Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable."
Of course, not everyone has the authority to ban the use of slides.
But you may wish you could!
Here's a snapshot of why:
You give a polished but dull presentation. Your clients and prospects offer polite applause, but they drag their feet in making decisions. As action slows down, progress and sales take longer and longer. You find yourself caught in endless meetings, stalled sales, and poor business results.
Meanwhile, your team of professionals keeps working hard. But without fresh training to enhance presentation skills, they aren't achieving results.
You wish you knew how to be effective in whiteboard diagrams, collaborative problem solving and facilitating interactive decision-making. But, you plod on doing the same-old, same-old.
And here's how it shows up for you, your team and your organization:
In sales teams, this shows as missed quarterly numbers and poor performance. In senior leadership teams, this shows as a lack of organizational focus on strategic priorities. In IT teams, software development groups, and project teams, it shows in redundant meetings, longer projects and missed deadlines.
As the generals and military personnel quoted in the New York Times article point out, t over-reliance on slides stifles conversation, drowns out clear thinking, and prevents smart decision-making.
In the past, executives, sales performer, and subject matter experts in many industries and military agencies relied heavily on data-driven presentations. A linear, logical and tell-all approach was often considered the best bet. This resulted in tedious PowerPoint presentations with 200-400 slides.
The gigantic, word-only presentations are much like dinosaurs of the past. In spite of imposing size, and terrifying presence, they are nearing extinction.
Slide craziness is making everyone nuts.
What's the alternative?
1. Learn To Tell Stories
Master presentation skills to ignite conversation. Tell colorful, fun and personal stories. Engage and involve your audience from start to finish. Visual storytelling has replaced what is commonly known as 'Death by PowerPoint.'
2. Draw Out Ideas
Instead of boring your audiences to tears, use visual storytelling. Instead of volumes of boring slides, take on the challenge. Pick up a marker and use it to dazzle your audience – at the flipchart, whiteboard, or wall chart. Heck, use a marker on a greasy napkin if you need to. Do what it takes to connect visually and make an impact.
3. Involve and Listen
Give people a chance to talk. Then, listen. A lively conversation cannot happen through an endless procession of slides in a dimly lit room. Increase the value of meeting and presenting by creating a lively and productive conversation. This is the fastest way to guarantee that people will attend, participate and value time together.
Making persuasive presentations is a key part of every professional's job. The stakes have never been higher. In a global marketplace, those who master the skills of visual storytelling and audience engagement will win the rewards. Those who continue to rely on out-dated styles, and boring, tedious presentations are likely to suffer.
Get smart and improve your presentation skills. Become an influential visual storyteller and win results.