PowerPoint isn’t Dead, but in Need of CPR

‘Training for Success’with Bill Russell

Bill Russell has worked with clients globally from a variety of industries including defense, telecom, banking, manufacturing, automotive, aviation, medical equipment, healthcare, and universities. Through the use of workshops, presentations, and interventions, he strives for quick, collaborative implementations that prioritize actions on the issues that yield the fastest and largest payback and encourage multiple cycles of learning. In other words, Bill believes in training for success. In this column, Bill will offer words of advice on how to get the most out of your training sessions. A firm believer in the power of reading and continuing education, Bill will also offer a recommended read at the conclusion of every piece.

Situation: Stale presentations leave attendees bored and disinterested.

How many of you have sat through PowerPoint presentations? (I think I see quite a few hands in the air.) Now, how many of those did you find valuable and enjoyable? (Not quite so many hands this time, in fact, practically none.)

One of the unfortunate features in our world of corporate training is the universality of electronic presentations. It seems we have a hard time gathering together without turning down the lights, turning on a projector, and looking towards the screen. While technology seems to be changing at an ever-increasing pace, our meetings seem to be stuck on slides crowded with bullet points and four corner graphs.

Solution: Define objectives and use technology to interact with audiences.

We can change this standard. With a little extra work, and some critical thinking, we can use technology to tell a compelling story. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Define the exact issue you would like to explore. Define success in the eyes of the customer and any other key sponsors. Define the key metrics that would best reflect progress toward these goals.
  • Incorporate interactivity into your presentation. Provide the capability to do some “what-if” solutions on the fly.
  • Use Monte Carlo Analysis to show the effect of variation in key variables on the bottom line. Leverage Excel add-ins such as Crystal Ball or @Risk.
  • Have several different solutions on hand in your back-up slides, covering the most likely analysis options, allowing the audience to steer the direction of the presentation.
  • Use the animation features in PowerPoint to emphasize key visual  features.

Recommended Reading:
slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations
No matter where you are on the organizational ladder, the odds are high that you’ve delivered a high-stakes presentation to your peers, your boss, your customers, or the general public.  Presentation software is one of the few tools that requires professionals to think visually on an almost daily basis. But unlike verbal skills, effective visual expression is not easy, natural, or actively taught in schools or business training programs. slide:ology fills that void.