Effective storytelling doesn’t need slides

Are we relying too much on the technology safety blanket?

PowerPoint was created in 1987 and now 30 years later we’re still using the same tools for presenting our thoughts and ideas.

This article isn’t aimed at being critical of just PowerPoint software but of all presentations which rely too much on the technology to do the work. Over a decade ago a political party running in Switzerland was named the “Anti PowerPoint Party”, so this is not a new argument.

However we’re now getting too a point where core presentation and oratory skills are being lost and forgotten.

The popularity of PowerPoint is still very strong and arguably it’s most famous use was in 2003 when it was used by Colin Powell, U.S. Secretary of State, to argue the Bush administration’s final case for war with Iraq.

Today the stats say:

  • There are 1.2 billion copies of PowerPoint at large
  • That’s one copy for every seven people on earth

Approximately 200 million of these copies are used per month. A few years ago Picture Superiority was all the rage. Presenters would tell a story in a presentation through lots of images and little text. Why? Neuroscientists argued the brain processes information more effectively when the information is presented in pictures and words instead of words alone.

Today a little text and a lot of pictures is still the norm but are we switching off from this style of presenting? We have moved from dull, wordy and overloaded with bullet points to image-rich presentations which appeal to right hemisphere of the brain – the emotional side. But have we forgotten the key part is actually to connect with people emotionally through speaking?

Today the best presenters do not use PowerPoint as audiences have tired of slides. It does take experience for the presenter to lose what is in essence a safety blanket.

A good speaker can engage through the power of good oratory and this is a skill that needs redeveloping as many have become lazy in approach. In the old days the great speakers were greater orators and presenters but this has diluted over time. The challenge now is to raise the bar again.

To do this, it takes time to practice and develop the oratory skills.

Banning for planning

Should we ban PowerPoint presentations so we have to plan thoroughly what we want to argue and how we present this to the room?

Are we relying on presentations acting as an aide memoir and spending less time working on what we actually want to say? Relying on an old presentation does allow for more time but it’s the time spent working on what you want to say that is also being harmed.

If an idea doesn’t fit into a neat little bullet point, it doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea. Presenting should be fun and effective with an aim of getting a point across through core oratory skills.

This is so essential and now it’s time to reignite this powerful skill.

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