When the moment comes to deliver a sales pitch or propose a project, all too many speech-shy professionals fall back on what may be the modern world’s most tedious way to present an idea: PowerPoint.
But speech coaches say there’s no need to turn a slide show into a drag.
“I myself like PowerPoint, I just don’t like what people do with it,” says public speaking expert Elayne Snyder. “They put a whole bunch of stuff up on the screen, which is the worst thing there is to do.”
Cramming your slides with fine text could make your PowerPoint feel powerfully pointless. To avoid the temptation, script your speech slide-free, on paper.
“Don’t put together your presentation in PowerPoint,” speech coach Patricia Fripp recommends. “Build it on a pad of paper, a white board or on a flip chart, and then ask yourself, ‘Where absolutely must I add the PowerPoint?’”
With a good script, you might be surprised how little you need it.
“A speech is all about building rapport with the audience,” continues Fripp. “If the audience is reading your PowerPoint, then they can’t listen and pay attention to you.”
See eye to eye
One of the biggest dangers of using a slide show in a pitch isn’t what it does to your speech — it’s what it does to your body language.
“When delivering the presentation, never look at the screen,” Snyder stresses. “People don’t want to see the back of your head.”
Fixating your eyes on the audience in front of you conveys confidence, she adds. And long after that audience has forgotten the contents of slide 27 — or how quirky the animated gif was on slide 42 — they will remember the impression of you they took away.