I presented tonight at She Says's event on "2020 - imagining the future" event. And a funny thing happened. I didn't present any powerpoint slides.
I present a lot - whether it's at work or at conferences and events. And I always have powerpoints. They're pretty nice powerpoint slides to be fair - big, interesting images, not a ton of words on them but I always have them.
Today I didn't.
There's a true-true reason and a half-true reason about why I didn't have any slides.
The half true reason is that I had 10 minutes to talk to a small audience, so why should I have to have slides? As Jon Steel says more eloquently than I can in his brilliant book Perfect Pitch (read it, read it, read it!), Churchill didn't use powerpoint, Martin Luther King didn't use powerpoint, OJ Simpson's lawyer, who achieved the near-impossible, didn't use powerpoint, so why do we all? I have been doing some work recently with Mark Choueke who was a journalist and now works agency-side at Chime Communications (VCCP's holding company) Mark is a grown up and super smart and until he went agency side he never once had to write a powerpoint slide. So he had to go on powerpoint training. His view was that powerpoint seems to be the currency that the advertising/PR world trade in. How depressing.
The true true reason is that I was going to write my slides last night but the boys didn't want to go to bed and then I figured that I would write them at work, but a client meeting started late and ended late and I just didn't have the time. So although I had written my presentation I had not written any powerpoint slides. A presentation and a powerpoint deck not being the same thing obviously.
So I had no slides. Every other speaker did.
I was speaking last and as I watched the 4 speakers before me I suddenly realised that all of them had to keep stopping to click the computer in order to get to the next slide. I realised that often I was watching the screen more than I was watching them. I also realised that if your slides are in the wrong order than your story gets screwed.
So I stood up and I spoke. And I felt totally exposed, like a child without a much loved security blanket. But once I stopped worrying that the screen behind me was blank and concentrated instead purely on the audience and the story that I wanted to tell them it suddenly all made sense to me. This is the way that we should be presenting. Unless you have a specific visual that you are referencing and want to share.Why do we always default to powerpoint??
My new resolution is to get myself out of my powerpoint comfort zone more often now. Something that I would urge all of you to try as well.It's not as easy as it looks, but often the right thing isn't always easy.