3 Reasons to Throw Away Your PowerPoint Presentation

Slide decks are a means to content marketing, not an end

There is an art to writing slide decks that support your presentation and an art to presenting without a slide deck. Hire a writer who can help you with both.

Have you ever seen a slide deck get in the way of a presentation? Your own presentation, perhaps?

Say you’re standing in front of forty people delivering a presentation. Suddenly, it dawns on you that you’re losing your audience. Fast.

At first they ogle the screen and leaf through your handouts. But as your presentation goes on, some of them pick up their phones, check e-mail and surf a bit. Finally, you begin to read a message on a few faces: “All right, we’ve got the deck with your information. May we go now?” If you could read their tweets, you would probably confirm that they’ve checked out (and are telling people about it in real time).

Disadvantages of a slide deck

  1. PC logistics are against you. Your goal is to convey a message between two parties: yourself and the audience. Like it or not, you’re sharing the stage with the laptop, the remote control and the screen. And if they’re giving you trouble, they become unwelcome co-presenters.
  2. Your audience is reading the screen instead of reading you. You lose eye contact each time there’s a change on the screen. For that matter, by clicking from one slide to the next, you are the one deliberately sending people’s attention away from your on-stage presence.
  3. The presence of a slide deck induces – in fact, rewards – laziness. If members of the audience don’t have to do any work, they probably won’t remember your message for very long. “Can you send me a copy of the slide deck?” means, “I’m not engaged right now, so send it to me (and I’ll ignore it later).”

Quit doing too much for your audiences. Try throwing away your PowerPoint deck. Instead, give your listeners a “self-propelled” presentation.

A presentation without a slide deck?

How are you going to pull that off? You’ll need to engage the audience in other ways.

  1. Carry the structure in your oral delivery, not in bullet points. A presentation is good when your structure is obvious and your message is clear. The audience gets it, because your quotes are compelling and you’re first-second-thirding the information straight into their brains. (Caution: That may mean that you’re finished in ten minutes instead of 45. Then what will you do?)
  2. Feeling your oats? Tell them there are no handouts (“Socrates didn’t need no stinkin’ bullets!”), or that your dog ate your USB drive and they’ll need to take their own notes. If you’re doing a good job presenting something they want to hear, they’ll jot their own notes. Now that’s valuable content.
  3. Reinforce your points with interactive exercises instead of charts on the wall.
    • Turn your delivery of data into a quiz; e.g., “Tesla sold 245,000 units in 2018. How many did it sell in 2019?” (Answer: 368,000).
    • Get the audience members involved by piping up with anecdotes that support or refute your points.
    • Pause halfway into your presentation and trade places with the audience. “Is anybody out there completely lost? If so, then I’m not doing my job successfully. Help me figure out how I can fix it.”

To put together a presentation without a slide deck, you’ll need to tell your content marketing writer, “I’m going it alone, so create me a presentation that doesn’t need a slide deck.” Will she be up to the task?

Have you ever done a presentation without a slide deck? How did it go?

photo credit: mecookie


Author: John White

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a content marketing writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Content Marketing Writer.”