PowerPoint is a useful tool. It’s easy to master. It’s a good way to give your presentations structure. And it’s an effective way to present your audience with informative visuals, like photographs, tables, and charts.
But be honest – how do you really feel when you arrive at a presentation and the speaker starts playing a PowerPoint? (Especially a PowerPoint that’s packed with bullets and paragraphs of text?) Are you excited and pleased? Or do you feel a sense of tired resignation and immediately start to tune out?
“PowerPoint fatigue” (a condition that often exists in people who have been subjected to too many PowerPoints) is just one reason why using a PowerPoint in your presentation may not be the best idea. If you get the sense that your audience is suffering from PowerPoint fatigue, you might want to give them a break and use a different tool or technique.
There are also other situations in which a PowerPoint presentation should probably NOT be used. Here are a few of them:
- You want to emphasize your leadership qualities – Do you remember that scene in the movie “Independence Day” when President Bill Pullman delivers an inspirational speech to the weary populace? That moment would have been a lot weaker if he had been clicking through a PowerPoint. If you use a PowerPoint, your audience is going to view you as someone who is delivering information rather than as an inspirational leader. Plus, if a PowerPoint is being shown, audiences will spend much of their time looking at it rather than focusing on you. So if you want to be seen as a powerful leader like Bill Pullman, skip the PowerPoint and maybe just use a couple notecards.
- You want to stir up your audiences’ emotions and imagination – You have a greater chance of engaging with your audience, connecting with them, and inspiring them if you skip the PowerPoint. Without the visual aid, they’ll focus on you and your words. Inspiration will follow!
- You want your audience to participate – PowerPoints encourage people to sit back and zone out. They usually don’t even take notes. They’ll just ask for a copy of the PowerPoint presentation (which they’ll probably never look at). So if you want your audience to take an active role during your presentation and actually do something or produce something, you might want to avoid using a PowerPoint (or use it very sparingly).
- You don’t have a lot of time – Creating a good PowerPoint presentation takes time. If you don’t have that time, do without it. Similarly, delivering a PowerPoint presentation also takes time. You need to turn on the computer, make sure to projector is working, and troubleshoot the inevitable problems that occur. And you don’t want to rush through the slides. If you do, your audience won’t be able to follow what you’re saying and will probably overlook key information. So if you only have a limited amount of time to present, forego the PowerPoint.
Remember, a PowerPoint isn’t always necessary. Be like President Bill Pullman, and only use it when you know it’ll really add to the power and substance of your presentation.
Witt, C. (n.d.). When not to use PowerPoint. Witt Communications. Retrieved from http://wittcom.com/when-not-to-use-powerpoint/