Real Leaders Don’t Do PowerPoint is a great book which will help wean you off PowerPoint and help you to present more effectively.
About a year ago I stopped using PowerPoint during my presentations of the latest Digital Services offering from Endava. I had presented it dozens of times before, and knew the details of the offering. Once I stopped taking my laptop to presentations, colleagues in the room began commenting about the increased passion and asked me to present more, often to a more senior audience.
In the last year I’ve also begun speaking to analysts. No PowerPoints in these presentations either. The result has been more eye contact and conversation. Nowadays I mainly use PowerPoint to create nicer looking documents not presentations.
During the summer we did a sort of roadshow about some specific topics (cryptocurrencies – specifically blockchain, and Identity). I bought Real Leaders Don’t Do PowerPoint before the first presentation. I decided not to use PowerPoint, and used many of the tools and techniques in the book. It was much harder. It was uncomfortable. As the roadshow continued I became more relaxed and I think, the presentations improved.
The problem with PowerPoint is that it’s designed to present information. It’s a distraction from listening to a presenter. Most presentations are about relaying an idea, or a concept, or a product, or to offer some inspiration. And these presentations don’t present information so they don’t need the distraction of PowerPoint.
Think of sitting through those presentations which have been thoroughly dull. You read the slides, and let your mind wander off to think about more exciting topics such as what you’ll eat for lunch, or what you’ll do when you get home from work. The next slide appears, you read that, and then check your email.
Then there are the good PowerPoint presentations with loads of well-chosen photos. A day after the presentation you remember those three great photos, but what were the main points of the presentation? You can’t quite remember. That second photo was great though, and you must remember to use it on your next PowerPoint…
Real Leaders Don’t Do PowerPoint is a practical book. Christopher Witt is a speech consultant and coach who describes his techniques, dos and don’ts, with anecdotes and examples. Yes, the title is self-explanatory, but Witt also covers other details including what to wear (the answer is slightly smarter clothes than the audience), how to speak, when to use humour (never), understand the audience (very, very well), handling question and answer sessions, and planning spontaneity.
If you present, read this book. Read it cover to cover before you start working on your presentation.
Be warned though, the next time you are in an audience and the presenter says “You probably can’t read this, but…” you’ll need to bite your tongue.
I accidentally ordered two copies of this book, so if you would like my spare copy please contact me on Twitter (@bradbox) and I’ll post it to you.