Presenting Your Story or Death by PowerPoint


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a meeting or at a conference when a speaker gets the front of the room and says, “I’m going to go through these slides fast so I can get through all 172 in my 20 minutes.” Cue the groans from the audience. Most the folks I know call it, “Death by PowerPoint!” While it maybe a little dramatic, they aren’t wrong.

There are lots of presentation experts out there with their own ideas on the perfect way to present information. Two of the biggest “rules” are not to put everything on the slide and don’t read the slide. I am a big fan of this rule. I want to hear you talk about what you’re there to talk about it, not listen to you read about it.

This is your chance to tell me your story! Tell me why I should care about what you have to say. Share with me what makes you and your organization or product different. Give me a call to action – make me want to do something after I’ve heard you speak. You don’t need a lot of slides, but you do need to talk to me.

One of the places I’ve worked told us that our slides should tell a story from left to right and top to bottom. In other words, if you lined up all of your slides and just read the title of each one would it tell your story? If you read each slide from top to bottom, does it tell or support your story? If not, then try again. They knew people make a connection with the story. That people could identify with your message if you have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

You can’t underestimate the power of having someone stand in front of you, no matter how nervous, and having them tell you their story. I think that’s one of the greatest things the TED Talks do. They put someone with a compelling story on stage and they let them tell it. The fact that they have amazing stories helps, but it’s not the only reason. Being willing to share that little part of yourself is very powerful.

Conference season is in full swing, and so is the march through slide presentations. The next time you cue yours up take a minute to ask yourself if you’re telling me your story or if you’re presenting at me. I know which one I’ll remember.