Beyond Death By Bullet Points
In a popular post on Seth Godin’s blog, Godin writes clearly about this problem. http://sethgodin.typepad.com/
At a meta-level, bullets convey a perception of fact, truth and over-simplification.
What does a PowerPoint bullet really do?
Let’s take a look at what a bullet conveys:
• Authority: Random information appears factual
• Simplicity: Complex information is captured in a single line
• Isolation: Information appears outside of context
• Cold Logic: No obvious story-narrative
Ouch. Not what you want to do when you’re delivering a powerful story to grow your impact.
Is the software at fault? Of course not.
Communicating with bullet points is a particular form of expression. It has a definite function and purpose. It is best used for organizing ideas, conveying factual information and preparing logical point-by-point presentations.
Keep in mind the origins of the software. PowerPoint was originally designed by engineers–for engineers.
Yet you are talking about many diverse topics when you give presentations. Most likely, you need to show nuances, connections, patterns. You need to tell a story to inspire enlightened decisions.
Are you using PowerPoint on automatic? Are you asking your audience to make important decisions based on your bullet-point slides–because it’s the best thing to do? Or are you choosing a slide-only presentation just because it’s ‘how things are done’ in your organization.
The problem extends well beyond the military briefings. In corporate boardrooms, meeting rooms, and conference halls, the majority of presentations rely on PowerPoint or Keynote slides.
To add flexibility and expand the conversation, think outside of slides.
Draw a Whiteboard Sketch
Use the whiteboard to create interaction and simplify ideas. Draw, show and interact with your audience.
If people have questions, answer and draw a simple sketch. Prepare your ideas and presentation flow in advance. But be prepared and ready to go with the conversational flow when you’re in front of your group.
A poorly drawn image is a bad idea. Still, a funky-looking drawing is better than relying on dull bullet-point slides. A poorly drawn image often is more effective at revealing the bigger picture, the emotional elements and the non-linear dimensions of your story.
If you need help with whiteboard sketching get help. You don’t have to struggle alone to achieve legible writing and powerful visuals. Build your skills with personal coaching and training.