Preparing For a Powerful Delivery
Use PowerPoint Sparingly
When I was preparing for the
ten-minute talk I mentioned throughout the last point, I
created a deck of slides and spent several hours getting
them just the way I wanted them.
Each time I rehearsed my talk, I
either ran the slides through in my head or had them
projected on a wall while I rehearsed. During the entire
preparation process, I felt there was something not
quite right about my presentation, but I couldn’t really
put my finger on what it was.
I felt completely prepared for my
talk, but there was still something bothering me, even
as I sat in the car on the way to the event. I asked
myself several mental questions, including, “Have I
missed any important points?” “Does the presentation
flow the way I want it to?” “Is everything in the best
possible order?” and, “Are my PowerPoint slides properly
prepared?” The answer to all of these questions was
“yes,” so what was bothering me?
Then, a question popped into my
head that I had not yet asked myself, “Do I really need
those PowerPoint slides at all?”
I considered that for a moment
and visualized how the presentation would flow without
the slides, and a weight was lifted from my mind. That
was it! I didn’t really need those slides to accomplish
my objectives for this presentation. I delivered the
presentation with no slides, and it went as beautifully
as it could have gone. PowerPoint slides wouldn’t have
helped my presentation, and most likely would have
One might think it was a waste of
time preparing those slides. Not at all, the preparation
time on the slides helped me galvanize the material in
my mind, even though I didn’t use those slides. I knew
my material so well, I didn’t need those slides to help
me present it, but I did need them to help me prepare.
Something similar happened in the
summer of 2010 when I was preparing a mission-critical
presentation for my members at “Your Stage,” my business
education and networking group. I was preparing for a
one-hour sales presentation to increase membership and
I’d prepared 140 PowerPoint slides.
I set up the projector, and
rehearsed my presentation hundreds of times, changing
slides and reordering things as I went along. I spent
hundreds of hours on those slides and in rehearsal and
Two days before the presentation,
I went through every slide and asked myself, “Is this
slide critical to the presentation?” If the slide was
not absolutely pivotal in making the point I was trying
to make, I deleted it from the deck. I narrowed 140
slides down to 10 critical ones. 10 slides that were
absolutely mandatory to make my point the way I needed
it to be made. The end result was that I knew my
material so well I didn’t even need to look at the
slides when they came on the screen, and I was free to
adlib if the mood struck me, or if I felt I had to
change course for my audience’s sake.
The presentation went exactly as
I’d envisioned it, and my mission was accomplished with
only ten awesome slides.
PowerPoint slides can be a
powerful addition to your presentation, but they also
bind you to a specific order of events, limiting your
freedom to take the presentation into a new direction if
you choose, or if required.
So, what’s the lesson? When
preparing your next presentation, ask yourself this
question, “Is this slide critical to the presentation?”
If the slide isn’t critical, remove it. PowerPoint
slides are meant to enhance your presentation, don’t let
them detract from it.