Thursday, June 23, 2005

An exercise in better presentations

Businesspeople make presentations; that's a given. Powerpoint seems to be the standard tool for making presentations, even though many have suggested it's less than optimal. Tuesday's Working Smart had excellent suggestions for those of you who do use Powerpoint in your work.

I'll go one further, inspired by having seen Edward Tufte lead a day-long workshop without any overhead slides at all. Try making your next three business presentations without any Powerpoint or equivalent at all! Use your words, your voice, your physical presence, show-and-tell objects, and possibly the whiteboard, poster-type wall charts and handouts to get your message across.

Why your next three presentations? Your first time without holding onto a Powerpoint presentation may be awkward, as you're just getting used to the idea (but you will rehearse, right?). If you've rehearsed well, your second should be better, and I conjecture you may be both better and more comfortable by the third.

I've done it, and I like the results. It can be a bit harder, especially if you have physical props (posters, etc.), for Powerpoint and its equivalents do let you make last-minute changes, and you can reuse Powerpoint slides while you may have to redo posters, if you've marked on them.

While you're thinking about this, see How to Save the World's thoughts on effective communications.

N.B.: Sometimes we don't have a choice. If, for example, you're working online and can only really show Powerpoint slides or the equivalent, then follow the original suggestions well.

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