Wednesday, September 15, 2004

PowerPoint Presentation Tip/s

Defy Big Brother and brighten your presentation

By Cam Barber - Vivid Message

In the last few years some communication experts have attacked PowerPoint and other 'slideware' saying it creates boring, monotonous presentations. So how much value is PowerPoint adding to your business communication? Well, it depends on how it is used, but many people fail to do the simple things needed to get the most out of this tool.

For example, trillions of slides are created daily with slideware but the constant glow on the screen is typically dominated by a standard format. Even with unique slide formats, the overall outline creates a monotonous room design which lacks the variety we humans crave.

Living under the glare...

Unfortunately technology can overpower a speaker. It often appears that the person speaking has no value other than to keep up with the slides, and the constant glare of PowerPoint's projected light has been compared to Big Brother.

Now, before the idea of Big Brother became cool as a TV show, it represented a stifling totalitarian society, created by author George Orwell, that suppressed the individual. In the story, the wall-sized 'telescreen' in every home could not be turned off, and functioned like a 2-way mirror where Big Brother could also see you.

"You can turn it off!"

Winston Smith is the main character and he lives with the anxiety of this projected light constantly staring back at him; looking over his shoulder. In one scene he has a meeting in the office of a senior member of the ruling party, which, like all offices, has a big screen on the wall. Half way through the meeting, the party member hits a button and the screen goes blank. "Oh, you can turn it off!" came the relieved and amazed response from Winston. "Yes, we have that privilege."

When you next use PowerPoint, consider breaking the visual monotony using the 'B' key. Pressing 'B' on the keyboard blanks the screen or 'goes to black'. This can dramatically refresh your audience's attention and you can use it to:

Tell a story
Give an example
Direct your audience through a handout
Draw a diagram on a whiteboard or flip chart
Focus attention on a product or sample item
Control the room

Not only does this add much needed variation, it makes you look more in control of the environment, rather than appearing to be a passive slave to the technology. This assists in:

Changing the mood of the room
Drawing audience attention to the speaker instantly
Providing a set-up for an important point
Building rapport and a closer personal connection with your audience

How exactly?

When in 'slide show' mode in PowerPoint, simply hit the 'B' key on the keyboard. Both the laptop screen and the projected image will go black. Hit 'B' again to return to the slide. This only works in 'slide show' mode and will not work if you are just browsing through the PowerPoint program. Try it. Play with it. Incorporate this into your presentations.


Fortunately viewers of the modern Big Brother can turn off the TV if they want a break, yet presentation audiences don't have control of the switch. Have some consideration for your audience by giving them a rest from PowerPoint bombardment and you will add the variety that helps keep their attention.


At 12:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tanya, It's Marie here from the FLL project just checking out your blog. I am SOOOO impressed by the fact that people from all over are starting to make insightful comments. It's actually working like a blog should - with interactivity and cross-fertilisation of ideas. Your strategy of emailing the link to your blog so people WILL make comments is a great one. And I guess I'm writing in this section 'cos I really like this simple tip about the "b" key when using powerpoint. I've seen a few people here at CIT demonstrate what they've learnt from a Marcus Ragus course on Digital Coaching Aids. You know a lot already by your wonderful discovery method of self-directed learning but there may even be some extra things in this for you. Do a google search & see what you think.
Cheers Marie


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