PowerPoint and the Importance of the Letter ‘B’
It’s easy to think that your slides are the most important part of your presentation – if the content is perfect, the presentation should be as well, right?
But this is a dangerous line of thought. Slide content alone can’t, and shouldn’t, speak for itself. A presentation without a presenter isn’t really a presentation at all. And sometimes, only a presentation will do.
There’s been an interesting trend in recent years of creating a deck of slides, uploading them to a site like Slideshare and being content that your slides are out there, being seen. The ‘presentations’ that you find on sites like this are often just a loosely arranged combination of images and words and invariably not as effective as a deck with a presenter. In fact, they can’t really be called presentations at all – being created in PowerPoint does not automatically classify something as a presentation. These uploaded presentations are perhaps an understandable option if, for whatever reason, you can’t meet your audience in person (although, even then, there are far better alternatives). At any rate, without a presenter, your content just won’t be as persuasive.
The involvement of a presenter makes it infinitely easier for the audience to assimilate the message. It’s been well documented that the mind can only absorb a limited amount of content at any one time, and a presenter can make sure that the information is being conveyed in the most effective way. Studies show that audiences absorb over double the information when they receive it via dual encoding – that is, both aurally and visually at the same time – than by only one channel (i.e. just by reading, or by listening to a presentation delivered over bullet points).
Presentations are a combination of presenter and visual aids, and this balance moves throughout the course of a presentation. Presenters need to keep track of the audience’s reaction. If they’re staring, glassy-eyed, at the presenter, their attention may need to be directed back to the content being shown on the slide. If they are too occupied by what is being shown on the slide, it could be time to draw their attention back to the speaker by the timely use of one of PowerPoint’s best kept secrets – the ‘b’ key. This will blank the screen and instantly force the audience to focus on the presenter and listen to what’s being said. Maintaining this dynamic in a presentation will ensure that people stay engaged throughout the presentation and remember more of the content than they otherwise would – something impossible to do when slides don’t work with the presenter.
Remember that the effectiveness of a presentation is decided by both the content of your visual aids, and you, the presenter. If you deliver your slides in such a way that the audience remains engaged and receptive, you’ll be on the right path to a bid-winning presentation.