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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why not to start a sentence with “We need a PowerPoint on…”

I’ve written plenty of PowerPoint presentations in my time. They can be effective and interesting.

But an editorial by Nancy Duarte for CNN.com reminds us why we shouldn’t approach a presentation by thinking of it as a PowerPoint. The better way to approach it is by asking ourselves why we are being asked to speak and what our audience should take from it. After all, the purpose of communicating is to reveal meaning, not just to throw information at people.

I recently wrote a 15-minute speech for someone that included a PowerPoint. The PowerPoint itself consisted of only eight slides (photos, a basic graph, and a memorable quote). That’s because the presenter’s message was strong enough to stand on its own. She used PowerPoint for only one reason: to help make her strongest points resonate with her audience.

Next time you are asked to make a presentation, think first of what you want your audience to remember. Then determine if PowerPoint will help.

Editor’s note: The flowchart referenced at the beginning of Duarte’s editorial was first blogged about by G&H’s Chris Georgacas in March 2010.