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Author Topic: NEWS - PowerPoint Presentations: Power in Visuals  (Read 2114 times)

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« on: February 16, 2008, 08:45 »
PowerPoint Presentations: Power in Visuals

"I've learned from experience that people remember pictures long after they've forgotten words."

These are some of the opening words from social entrepreneur Bill Strickland, presenting at the TED conference, a series of talks from some of the world's most inspired thinkers and do-ers. Bill's story is appropriately inspired, and you can watch it here.

For the purposes of this blog post, though, I'm focusing not on Bill's message, but on his presentation - an unwritten speech given before a backdrop described as "a slide show that has opened the minds (and pocketbooks) of CEOs across the country."

It is, in fact, one of the simplest and most powerful uses of PowerPoint I've ever seen. It doesn't use text effects, buttons, pie charts, statistics or sound effects. It simply uses fantastic stock imagery and provocative questions to inspire people to action. You can watch the whole thing in isolation - it's about 4 minutes long - but here are a few key slides:

I found this stuff through Presentation Zen, Garr Reynold's blog about professional presentation design. Garr has this to say about Bill Strickland's presentation style:

Bill Strickland has a fascinating story that he tells on stage in a straight forward, conversational style. His story is amplified naturally by the use of photos projected on a screen behind him... The content is wonderful and inspiring and the delivery serves as a reminder: Presentation is never just giving the facts, it's a performance and it is art, "the art of presentation." It's not fancy and it's not high-tech, but like the art of jazz itself, its authentic, naked, and real.

The thing that is interesting to me that while excellent, this is a PowerPoint presentation that doesn't work without the presenter providing the narrative in front of it. Too often, people planning presentations, be they external sales pitches or internal reports at meetings,  invest vast amounts of time in creating PowerPoint presentations that work completely on their own. All the information, all the data, all the stats are crammed into endless slides and bar charts, and the person delivering the presentation is left simply reading slides with nothing of value to say.

Bill's is a simple presentation that flips that model on its head, putting the emphasis back on the presenter and the power of story telling. It leaves PowerPoint to do the thing it's really best at, which is to deal with the visuals. The better the visuals you select, the better the impact they will have - but the visuals should support your key message, while the story should come from you.



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