Professional Communication and Presentation Class Mini Discussion

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This week, four amazing artists presented their Mini Discussion presentation.  Here was the prompt: Garr Reynolds says an ineffective slide is a slideument and Nancy Duarte says we should be creating “digital scenery” instead.  Explain the difference between an ineffective slide and an effective one based on these two slide design experts.  Use one outside source, and create an activity to help the class internalize your lesson.

As they were presenting, my students animated their speech using the whiteboard and a few markers.  After they finished, I asked them if I could take their pictures next to the pictures they’re drawn on the board.

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Gerson (left) and Tuan (right) showed us the RIGHT way to design a slide relying on images, a little bit of relevant text, and strong principles of design.

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Brian (left) and Roberto (right) explain what a slidument is and dissect an example of a “wall of text,” bad slide.

I am always so impressed when my students blend what they’re learning and studying (art and design) with what we learn in class.

What great things have your students been working on lately?

LINKS OF THE WEEK: 2014.07

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Garr Reynolds is on fire, which means his upcoming book is bound to be filled with amazing things!  Presentation Zen has posted two good reads in the past seven days.  “No Amount Of Technology Will Make A Bad Story Good” looks at Toy Story and the technology used in the movie.  Reynolds cites Steve Jobs and John Lasseter to point out that technical feats are meaningless in the film industry unless a compelling story exists.  The driving force is “story, story, story” (Source).  Reynolds talks a bit more about this in “Storyboarding And The Art Of Finding Your Story.”  This second blog post examines, specifically, what Pixar can teach us about storyboarding and uses advice from Walt Disney.  This advice does relate to presentations because if you can arrange your presentation (or your story) on paper in a way that makes sense, your audience will get it.

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Ethos3’s “Presentation Lessons from Brené Brown” is based on her TED Talk (and one of my personal favorite TED Talks) called “The Power of Vulnerability.”  Since it had been quite awhile since I’d seen Brown’s TED Talk, I watched it again before reading Ethos3’s article.  Not only did the presentation resonate with me once again, but the advice from Scott Schwertly was spot on.  The CEO of Ethos3 suggests we remember the importance of storytelling, simple slides, humor, and emotional moments (Source).  We can also learn a lot from Brown’s delivery.  She embodies Garr Reynolds’ “naked presenter” philosophy and shows her audience her true, authentic self.  I was happy Ethos3 reintroduced me to the Talk this afternoon.

Our final good read of the week comes from Angela DeFinis of DeFinis Communications.  Called “7 Deadly Sins of Presentation Preparation,” DeFinis explains some pretty killer mistakes people make when preparing for a speech.  These sins include not preparing content before slides; not practicing delivery ahead of speech day; and not showing energy and confidence along with four other major preparation issues.  Read the article here to ensure you fully and properly prepare for your next presentation.

What great articles did you read over the weekend?

Understanding Speech Delivery Using Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle

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Simon Sinek believes he knows the secret to why some ideas flourish and other ideas die.  He says powerful leaders and communicators start with why.  Sinek’s “Golden Circle” explains his theory:

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Why is concerned with the reason or purpose of something.  How is about the manner or means by which we do something.  What is detailed information really focused on specifying something.  In Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, he explains Apple’s why as their purpose: to think differently, to push and to challenge the status quo.  How Apple does this, the means and manner by which they share their purpose with the world, is through effective design and engineering.  Lastly, the what, are Apple’s specific products: the iPhone, the MacBook Pro, iTunes.

Starting with why, next focusing on how, and then getting specific with the what is an approach I take in the classroom when teaching students a new concept.  When it comes to public speaking and presentation, it’s important to have an overall delivery goal, a purpose for your delivery, the why.

Why?

When it comes to delivery, I am a proponent of Garr Reynolds’ “naked presenter” philosophy which says effective delivery should be natural, authentic, and real in order to connect with an audience.  Reynolds says:

Being naked involves stripping away all that is unnecessary to get at the essence of your message. The naked presenter approaches the presentation task embracing the ideas of simplicity, clarity, honesty, integrity, and passion. She presents with a certain freshness. The ideas may or may not be radical, earth shattering, or new. But there is a “newness” and freshness to her approach and to her content.  (Source)

Understanding this “naked” philosophy of presenting gives us a clear idea on why to deliver a speech this way: because we can deeply connect with our audience if we are human beings and if we show that humanity to others.  This fundamental why purpose, or starting place, is essential when discussing, teaching, or learning more about effective presentation delivery.

How?

It’s much easier to explain how to do something once you’ve established that why.  Take a look back at Sinek’s Golden Circle.  Starting from the middle, the core, and working out gives people a clear understanding of the bigger picture before tackling the specific details.  Most audience members will only connect with an idea once they know why that idea is important and why it matters to them.  Only after that purpose is established will they focus on gathering more information on how to live out that purpose and what to do to move in the right direction.

Reynolds breaks down how to deliver a speech using the naked presenter philosophy in “Make Your Next Presentation Naked.”  He says we can be present in the moment; avoid trying to impress others and embrace trying to help/inform/teach others; keep the lights on; ditch our script and speak naturally from an outline; come out from behind the podium; move around the stage; and simplify (Source).  He has many more how tips here.

Another great article explaining how to present naturally is “10 Powerful Body Language Tips.”  The article examines nonverbal communication, body language, and gives us the means and methods by which we can speak more naturally using effective body language.  We can power pose, remove barriers, smile, shake hands, and mirror the body language of our audience members, for example (Source).

Again, notice that some of these how tips are still a bit conceptual.  The authors let us know the means and manner by which to present “naked,” but they aren’t yet giving us definitions.  Definitions come at the what level.

What?

Unfortunately, as Simon Sinek mentions in his landmark TED Talk, many people begin with the what.  Many businesses focus on what.  In my discipline, many teachers’ lessons only explain the what.  For example, before I learned about Garr Reynolds’ The Naked Presenter, I used to teach delivery by breaking it apart and defining each of its pieces: hand gestures, eye contact, vocal variety.  I was teaching my students the what, and it didn’t work very well for them.  If you’ve ever been in a public speaking classroom with a teacher lecturing on and on with the definitions of pronunciation versus articulation versus enunciation, you know the feelings my students experienced: boredom, apathy, annoyance.  The entire time I listed definitions, they were wondering, “What’s the point of this?  Why does this matter?”

So only after we define why and how should we get into those definitions – the what.  When it comes to speech delivery, we should understand the purpose first, the means and methods second, and the definitions last.

For more tips on effective delivery, please read the “Delivery” section of Creating Communication.  Notice that the first post in the section starts with why: “The Goal of Speech Delivery.”

How do you teach or learn about delivery?  Do you agree that Sinek’s Golden Circle model works as an effective tool for communicating ideas in a powerful way?

Rethinking Slides: The Purpose of PowerPoint

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Last night, my professor gave our class directions for next week’s group presentations on a specific communication theory.  He said he wanted us to focus on clarity of ideas as opposed to presentation “glitz,” and he asked that we keep things simple and avoid a whirling, swirling Prezi.  When my group came together to discuss our theory and how we might present it to our classmates, I asked, “Can we NOT use a PowerPoint?”  By the reaction I got, you would have thought I asked my group members to put their hands into a wood chipper.

Undeterred by a little pushback, I suggested we avoid going the death-by-PowerPoint route and stick to a handout instead.  It took me getting approval from the professor before the group agreed.  I thought to myself… Since when did “PowerPoint” become synonymous with “presentation?”  And since when did suggesting we ditch the slideshow software become an outlandish suggestion?

Last week, I wrote “3 Reasons To Ditch Your PowerPoint Slides” based on an NPR article I’d read.  Last night, I realized we need to take an even further step back and examine the purpose of PowerPoint.

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The goal of a presentation is to share an idea with a group of people.  Sometimes, slides are a great way to reinforce that message visually.  Most of the time, slides aren’t necessary.  First, we must decide if we even need slides to communicate our message.  We can ask ourselves these questions:  What is my message?  What does my audience need to know about my message?  How can I effectively get my message to my audience?  Why does my message matter to my audience?  Would visual aids help an audience “see” my message?  If so, what kind of visual aids would be best?

Most PowerPoint slides don’t contain visuals to support the message – they contain the message itself.  If you skip these questions and open up PowerPoint, you are typing in notes.  PowerPoint isn’t a container for notes… It was originally created to be a visual aid.  A visual aid is defined as something you look at in order to make a concept easier to understand (Source).  A visual aid should be visual.  Text-heavy slides are just the opposite of visual; in fact, text-heavy slides are just your presentation notes written down.  Don’t display your notes… Your notes are for you.  Your audience doesn’t need to read your notes.  Your audience needs visual stimulation through actual visuals.

Molecular biologist John Medina studies the brain and names vision as our dominant sense.  He says, “Toss your PowerPoint presentations. It’s text-based (nearly 40 words per slide), with six hierarchical levels of chapters and subheads—all words. Professionals everywhere need to know about the incredible inefficiency of text-based information and the incredible effects of images” (Source).  Consider the picture superiority effect:

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So, if audience’s brains are attracted to visually-driven information, and if PowerPoint slides were originally designed to be visual, why aren’t we using the medium properly?

Guy Kawasaki interviewed presentation expert Garr Reynolds on this very topic.  Reynolds says, “We can make effective presentations with even older versions of PowerPoint—often by ignoring most of the features. Ultimately it comes down to us and our skills and our content. Each case is different, and some of the best presentations include not a single slide. In the end it is about knowing your material deeply and designing visuals that augment and amplify your spoken message” (Source).

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Think about how you feel when you sit in a room and watch PowerPoint after PowerPoint after PowerPoint filled with bullets.  After a few minutes, you’re tired, you’re bored, you’d rather be doing something else.  If your audience isn’t paying attention and would rather be doing something else, you haven’t done your job as the presenter.  Your job is to engage your audience, to inform but to entertain them, to get them excited about a particular topic, to motivate them, to persuade them… If your audience feels nothing but apathy and boredom, your presentation was a waste of everyone’s time.

Most importantly, if your audience has your entire message written down, they don’t need you!  Take a look at this PowerPoint called, hilariously enough, “Giving Good Presentations.”  Since I can read this information from start to finish, I don’t need anyone to read it for me.  I don’t need to go to a lecture hall, a conference room, or a TED convention to have this stuff read aloud for me.  That means this isn’t a presentation – it’s a document.  Anything with a bunch of text on it is a document – it’s not a slide.

Turning your document into a slideshow is easy and effective.  Instead of displaying your notes, use visually-driven slides dominated by images.  Doing so means your job as a presenter is no longer obsolete – your audience needs YOU to connect the dots and to explain each slide.  Garr Reynolds shows you some before and after slides here to get you started moving in the right direction.

Reynolds gives us one final thought, “PowerPoint and Keynote are both pretty simple tools, but there has been too much focus on the tools themselves. If people want to learn how to make better slides they should study good books on graphic design and visual communication to improve their visual literacy” (Source).

How do YOU convince people to rethink PowerPoint and to understand the purpose of a slideshow?

Duarte and Reynolds Inspire Another Class Overhaul

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Always interested in a good reading list, I was excited to see Garr Reynolds’ “10 Books for the 21st Century Presenter, Storyteller.”  His recommendations couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for my superteacher BFF, Chiara Ojeda, and for me.  As I mentioned earlier this week, an issue Chiara and I face is differentiating Public Speaking (our basic, freshman-level class) with Professional Communication and Presentation (our advanced, junior-level course).

With a recent overhaul of our Public Speaking online course and a focus on developing a new syllabus for the campus course, PSP is looking and feeling more solid in 2014 than it has in years.  Chiara and I decided to focus PCP both on campus and online on a visual resume project called the Professional Persona Project.  Presentation will be a major component of the course, still, but there will be even more of an emphasis on developing an impacting, story-driven, visual portfolio.  This is exciting because the Professional Persona Project will help our students AND create a clear division between Public Speaking and PCP.  Win-win!

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After watching Nancy Duarte’s interview with Pam Slim, the author of Body of Work, the wheels have been turning.  I definitely want to read Slim’s book now that I’ve heard about it from both Duarte and Reynolds.  While working at our favorite coffee shop on Friday, I told Chiara I wanted to read Slim’s book but several others to help me really get into this Professional Persona Project.

Enter Garr Reynolds’ reading list!  Of course, Slim’s book is among his picks.  Of Body of Work, Reynolds writes, “Pam shows how to find the connections among your diverse accomplishments, sell your story, and continually reinvent and relaunch your brand” (Source).  Click here for his full review and click here for Duarte’s interview with Slim.

In addition to Body of Work, Reynolds recommends other texts I’d love to get my hands on before Chiara and I overhaul the online and campus PCP class.  His list includes new books by Dan Roam and Nick Morgan and the books from Susan Cain and Brene Brown’s amazing TED Talks among 6 others.  I wish I could take a month off work and school to read all of these!  They will prove informative and influential with the Professional Persona Project and the class revamp.

What advice would you give to Chiara and I as we begin researching and redesigning our class?  Are there any must-read books to help our students with their Professional Persona Project?

Links of the Week: 2014.02

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For both my on-campus and online students, I explain that when it comes to public speaking and presentation, there are two major problems: lack of preparation and presentation anxiety.  It is true that these often go hand-in-hand.  In his latest blog post on Presentation Zen, Garr Reynolds discusses speech anxiety, also known as the lizard brain.  “Coping With Presentation Anxiety and Stage Fright” starts off by showing us an example of a Michael Bay presentation fail.  Reynolds then explains that we all suffer from stage fright in certain speaking situations, and we must learn how to deal with that anxiety.  He gives us an excerpt from his book The Naked Presenter written by guest author Les Posen called “Five Tips for Dealing With Presentation Nerves.”  These five suggestions include chunking your presentation; rehearsing; engaging in positive self talk; controlling physical symptoms of fear through deep breathing; and practicing deliberately.

Sometimes, the part of the presentation that makes us most fearful is the question and answer portion.  Fortunately, Ethos3’s latest post, “How To End Your Q&A Session,” can help!  My on-campus students are the only ones who ever do Q&A after speeches, and this can be a positive, productive experience or a really, really sad time.  For example, one of my students gave a persuasive speech on an emotionally-charged, polarizing topic… one which I told him he should reconsider due to his audience.  He ignored my advice, and I told him to meet me in my office to prepare and plan a successful speech.  Of course, he declined my offer (and, I should add, declined to apply all of the things I taught him that semester) and instead delivered a scattered, disorganized, essentially impromptu presentation which, needless to say, did not go over well with his audience.  During the Q&A, his fellow classmates tore him apart.  And I let them.  While it’s not my intention to ever make a student feel bad about himself, it is important that students learn one key thing in my class: it is all about the audience.

Not all students ignore my lessons and feedback and one-on-one help in my office, and most do a great job with Q&A because they’ve prepared and practiced.  They’re ready for their audience and genuinely want to clear up confusion or elaborate on their ideas.  Ethos3’s advice on how to manage a successful Q&A is a great article I would like to share with my audience-centered students.  The three tips Ethos3 give us for a post-speech chat include 1) taking one question at a time in a structured and organized fashion; 2) explaining up front the kinds of questions that will be answered; and 3) sharing an agenda.

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At our last English Department meeting, a colleague brought up the topic of visual resumes.  This is something I teach in Professional Communication and Presentation to my business students, and I loved the timing of Nancy Duarte’s “Old Career Rules Don’t Work – To Compete, You Need A Body Of Work.”  While my colleague did a great job of sharing examples of visual resumes, what wasn’t said in our Department meeting was why an online, digital portfolio or visual resume is essential in 2014.  Duarte talks about that specifically in her latest blog post.  She writes, “If you neglect your story, one will be written for you [...] The rise of social media has blurred the line between our personal and professional lives. Anybody can search for your name on the Internet and interpret the results however they wish” (Source).  And this is where managing your digital reputation comes in.

In 2010, Facebook was my obsession.  I’d had it since 2004 and spent hours every single day looking at photos and posting on my friends’ walls.  My Internet “brand” was what I posted on my personal Facebook page and the pages of other people.  Fast-forward to 2014, and I’ve been Facebook-free for nearly three years.  Instead, I’ve focused on building my digital brand in a much more constructive way through my blog, my contributions on the blogs of others, my Slideshare posts, my visual resume, and my LinkedIn profile page.  If you’d conducted a Google search of me back in 2010, you wouldn’t find much because I was wasting so much time on Facebook.  These days, I like what I see when I type “Alex Rister” into Google, and this has taken years and years of work.

Duarte says, “[Y]ou can no longer rely on a traditional resume of bullet points to position you for success. You must understand that all information in the public forum will become stories that influence your personal brand” (Source).  We only have 24 hours each day, and we get to decide how we want to spend that time.  Are we using our hours on the Internet for constructive, career-building, brand-creating, storytelling purposes?  If not, how can we make this more of a priority?  Can we cut out just 30 minutes or an hour of Facebooking each day to focus on our personal brand?

What great articles have you read this week?

Links of the Week: 2014.01

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We have our very first “Links of the Week” roundup for 2014!  And what a way to kick off the new year: with a Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds feature.  When I saw that Duarte conducted an interview with Reynolds in her office and posted an article containing that interview yesterday, I was THRILLED.  Called “Garr Reynolds Shares How Kids Impact The Creative Process,” the blog post contains a video interview you absolutely must watch.  Check it out below:

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In addition to the interview with my two favorite public speaking and presentation professionals, I learned that Reynolds has a soon-to-be published book on storytelling!  I cannot wait.  Since I am seeking a new textbook for my public speaking class, this might definitely be the book I’ve been desperately searching for.

I also loved the focus on play and on making sure play is incorporated in school and in work.  My university launched a unique course called Psychology of Play as opposed to a traditional Behavioral Science, and after meeting with the team leaders and learning from them, I felt so inspired!  I’ve been incorporating more play into my classroom and into my online GoTo Training sessions.  For example, during my last GoTo Training session with my Public Speaking Online students, I gave them 2 minutes to find either a really great or a really terrible presentation on YouTube.  We came back and analyzed a few together.  The experience was fun for everyone and got the students more involved in the session.  I find that whether we’re lecturing in the classroom or just talk talk talk talking our students’ ears off during a GoTo Training, we can interrupt that boring, mind-numbing sermon and instead incorporate play through activity and discussion.  I’m trying to do more of this in my own life, so it was great to be inspired by Reynolds and Duarte again in the interview video.

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Another tried and true favorite blog with a great article out this week comes from Ethos3.  “Presenting to Small Groups” gives advice on how to speak in a smaller venue to a smaller audience.  This was definitely an adjustment for me!  After teaching classes of 30-60 students for years, for a few months, I found myself cramped in teeny tiny classrooms of sometimes less than 10 students.  The experience was odd at first – because I do prefer a medium-sized audience – but I learned to adjust and to see the positives of a small group.  Ethos3’s advice includes changing the way we see the speaking situation from “presentation” to “consultation” and changing the type of presentation software used.  Although I would never recommend that any presenter use Prezi, I do agree with many points in the Ethos3 piece.  Check it out here.

Last, but not least, is an article we can all print out and put in our public speaking toolbox the next time we have to address an audience.  “10 Tips For Setting Up Your Presentation” by Jim Harvey contains advice to make sure you are as prepared as possible.  With tips like leaving the lights on while speaking; avoiding complicated animations, transitions, and multimedia; and sitting in an audience member’s seat beforehand to check readability of slides, Harvey’s latest article is one I will be sharing with my students from now on.

What interesting public speaking and presentation blog posts or articles have you read so far in 2014?

Presentation Zen Design Re-Release

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This week, while we continued to brainstorm for our new Public Speaking textbook, one superstar member of the team suggested a book I didn’t know existed… Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen Design Second Edition!  I always love a good re-release, and judging by the updates in his Presentation Zen Second Edition, I know Design will also be amazing.

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According to Amazon: “Best-selling author and popular speaker Garr Reynolds is back in this newly revised edition of his classic, best-selling book, Presentation Zen Design, in which he showed readers to use time-honored design principles and simple techniques for creating successful presentations. In this new edition, Garr gives readers fresh examples to draw from, as well as a whole new chapter covering storytelling techniques, with tips on using those techniques within the visuals of the presentation giving readers new storytelling techniques and tips for how to use visuals. This new edition also  includes a whole new section on presenting using video and multimedia” (Source).

Hooray!

Did you enjoy Presentation Zen Design?  What makes you most excited about the Garr Reynolds re-release?

Thank you, Garr Reynolds!

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Thank you to Garr Reynolds, Presentation Zen author and slide design guru, for Tweeting the link to Creating Communication over the weekend!

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If you’ve read a post on this blog, you know that Reynolds is one of my professional heroes, so a Tweet from him recommending his readers check out my blog is the most amazing compliment I could ever receive.

My students and I just finished using Reynolds’ The Naked Presenter in class to explain our approach to delivery and to dissect what delivery means and how it can be effective.  I also highly recommend Presentation Zen, the book that started my love for slide design.

Thank you for your Tweet, Garr Reynolds!

The Resistance Continues: Combating Bad Slides And The People Who Use Them

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“When I’m presenting, I think it’s important for people to hear what I’m saying AND see it on the slide.”

“I use a lot of vague bullets when I present.”

“My slides are text-heavy, but they are fine the way they are.  Audiences love my presentations.”

These are comments I’ve actually heard from people regarding slide design.  For the past few weeks, I’ve been wondering where the resistance to audience-centered slides comes from.  Who is telling people that it’s okay to design slides filled with bullets?  What research, which experts, and whose studies prove that slideuments work?  Better yet, find me one audience member who enjoys a document written on a slide and a presenter reading that slide…

There aren’t actually multiple approaches to slide design.  There isn’t a “bullet way” and a “non-bullet way.”  There’s the audience-centered way and the presenter-centered way.  The selfless way and the selfish way.  Yes… the right way and the wrong way.

Garr Reynolds explains it like this: “Slides are slides. Documents are documents. They aren’t the same thing. Attempts to merge them result in what I call the “slideument” (slide + document = slideument). Much death-by-Powerpoint suffering could be eliminated if presenters clearly separated the two in their own minds before they even started planning their talks.” (Source).

Nancy Duarte elaborates, “PowerPoint is the most pervasive visual layout tool in business, and it works beautifully for arranging words and associating them with pictures that support a topic. Unfortunately, it becomes a barrier to effective communication when used improperly. Because people prepare their brilliant work in presentation software, they feel obligated to verbally present these “documents.” The result is a meeting [or presentation] that becomes a read-along instead of time spent in productive conversation” (Source).

I’ve spent a lot of time explaining presentation design to students, teachers, colleagues, family, and friends.  Most people get it.  For example, my husband is going back to school at UWF for his graduate degree, and he had to sit through his first lecture last week.  He shook his head at the terrible template filled with bullets and said, “Alex, I wish I’d never overheard you talking about slides or seen examples of your slides.  I’ve never seen a good presentation ever since.”  My mom, a high school foreign language instructor, immediately got it and did some slide tweaking of her own in teaching her students Spanish and French.  My dad, my #1 fan and the single most devoted reader of my blog, marvels at the work of Duarte and Reynolds (and others), and we talk a lot about documents versus slides.

And then we have the resistance.

I teach at a tech-savvy art and design school, so most teachers are on board with the presentation revolution.  Most people confronted with the “right” way to design slides get it and say, “MAN!  I wish I had known about this years ago!”

A few people protest.  These are few and far between, but, BOY, do they protest.  Some people insist that their slides are great just the way they are.  Some insist that slides are meant to include a ton of words.  Some know about Duarte and Reynolds and brush off the slide revolution as fluff.  These are the people who get under my skin because I want to figure out a way how to reach them but have, time and time again, come up short.

I do notice that the protestors have a few things in common.  First, a lot of them have a lot of experience seeing presentations relying on text-heavy slides.  Slideuments are an everyday norm for them.  Second, the opposition does tend to be more business-y (come from business schools, work for big business, etc.).  Third, the members of the resistance are very aggressive.  They are firmly set in their beliefs, and they have absolutely no desire to change.  I’ve encountered downright hostile people arguing that bullets are the way to go.

While I would love to create a pitch for these naysayers, I don’t think it will be me who reaches them.  I think the world will need to change around them before they change… if they EVER change.  According to Shane Snow, the #1 business skill of the next five years will be effective storytelling.  Snow says, “Unfortunately, in the era of PowerPoint and status updates, many of us have forgotten how to tell a good story” (Source).  And it’s true.  While some people are clinging to their bullet-riddled slides, other people are focusing on the visual story, and those people are transforming the way we’re thinking about communication and presentation.

Snow continues, “Stories make presentations better. Stories make ideas stick. Stories help us persuade. Savvy leaders tell stories to inspire us, motivate us. (That’s why so many politicians tell stories in their speeches.) They realize that ‘what you say’ is often moot compared to ‘how you say it.’ (Again, for better or worse.)” (Source).  When it comes to slides, shoving content down people’s throats doesn’t actually work.  You can have 17 bullets filled with the most amazing information in the world on your slide, but no one cares because IT’S BORING!  Storytellers are the people who resonate, and learning to tell a story with your presentation is a necessary skill for any effective communicator.

Keep in mind that death-by-PowerPoint is only as old as PowerPoint.  Slides were meant to be visual, and they were visual before PowerPoint’s reign of terror began.  In fact, slides used to look a little something like this.  Check out Mad Men Season 2, Episode 11 “The Jet Set” for an example of a 1962 slideshow on nuclear weapons.  If these two presentations got it right in the 1950s and 1960s, how have we gone so far in the wrong direction today?

Angela Garber coined the term “death by PowerPoint” in 2001 (Source).  Since then, an army of presentation revolutionaries have tried to change the way we think about, design, and present information.  Most people are listening, and most people get it.  But then we have the resistance.  Do you know someone who is on the dark side, someone who peppers audiences with more bullets than one can count?  Maybe, just maybe, instead of trying to convince them to communicate more effectively, perhaps we should sit back and let them suffer the consequences…

How do you combat bad slides and the people who use them?