But it’s blank.

Yes, it’s blank. It’s not only blank, it’s black. This slide is not got going to light up a room during your presentation. This slide doesn’t say anything. So what’s the point? Power.

PowerPoint is rarely used to add power to a point. Most often, PowerPoint serves as a distraction from the speaker. Since most people are very fearful of public speaking, we appreciate having a darkened room to hide our fears and a dazzling display to distract the audience. We think that if a slide is pretty enough, it will powerfully slam home our point. Alas, PowerPoint has little power and cannot make a point for you. Only you have the power to make the point.

At the place in your presentation when it’s time to make your point, the most powerful thing you can do to grab attention is turn the projector off and the room lights on. Then look your audience in the eye and deliver your point. That’s power.

I’m not saying it will be easy for you. After all, at that moment the attention and focus will be on you. Your audience will wonder why you have stopped the presentation so suddenly when you are obviously not at the end. They will wonder what is coming next.

Isn’t that what you want? Aren’t you after their full attention and receptivity to your point? Well, now you’ve got it.

PowerPoint is only accessory to the speaker. Too often it’s used as a substitute for the speaker. The worst thing a presenter can do is read every slide to the audience. Do you really think that has impact? That presenter would do better to shut up and let people read the slides themselves. When you read slides to people you lose all all the power of the point.

Slides, if used, should be as brief as possible. I mean brief. One or two words make a great slide. For example, if the word “Sales” appears on a slide, the presenter then can explain his point about sales—with power. Picture this, please. I’d like to convince you that I can help build your sales. I put up a slide with a single word, “Sales”. I pause. Then I turn off the projector and turn on the lights. Addressing you directly I say, “Look, business is all about sales. If you let me work with your people for a week, you’ll see a real increase in sales. I know this because I’ve identified some areas that need work. A little training and a little tuning of customer service and things are really going to improve. I’ve made it happen before and I know what we need to do. What do you think? Should we get started?”  I may not need to finish the presentation.

The point is delivered with a one word or perhaps blank slide. The point is delivered with power.

Here’s the “take way”. PowerPoint can’t speak for you. It is a distraction from you. The less each slide says, the better. You do the talking. You have the power. Make your point.

Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog
[email protected]