What is the number one PowerPoint sin? The unanimous response I hear is - reading the slides! Reading PowerPoint, like hiding behind the lectern, feels safer than standing out there naked and in the spotlight. This must be why so many speakers and organizations do it!
To free ourselves from the spell, we have to (1) Intervene and establish our intention to take control, then (2) Practice explaining the ideas behind the slides until our “story-line” flows easily and (3) Rehearse staying connected to our listeners.
Here are some tips to shift your focus from reading slides to connecting with your audience:
ROLE-PLAY: Act AS IF you are…
• The Leader, in charge of the PowerPoint; it’s there to support and follow you – not the other way around.
• A Story Teller - illuminate your PowerPoint bullets with colorful pictures and flesh them out with stories, humor, anecdotes and your personality.
• A Dance Partner - connect from moment to moment with your audience, through your whole self, including eye contact, facial expression, body language, voice tone and tempo, inner commitment and conviction.
STRUCTURE: Build a solid container for your ideas with…
• “Books Ends” - Present a big picture idea at the beginning and at the end, such as “Breathe Life into Your Project Reviews!”; then have everything in between support that big picture idea.
• “Main Ideas and Transitions” – Think of each slide as a bead on a necklace. What is the most important idea about each slide and what is the idea that connects one slide with the next? Speak to these. The string that ties your beads together is your big picture idea.
• If you want to speak to several bullets on a slide, then – instead of just reading bullets (Zzzzz) – 1) Introduce the framing point that the bullets relate to (e.g. “So what are the 4 languages of public speaking?”, then 2) Tie the bullets together with simple word cues: “First, we have the verbal; Next, is the visual; Then, there’s the vocal; and Finally, we come to the visceral!” and 3) Conclude or transition – (Conclusion) “And here we have the 4 languages of public speaking!” (Add transition) “Now let’s move on! Let’s get you on your feet using those 4 languages!”
PRACTICE: Rehearse on your feet, out loud and...
• Drill your Intro and Conclusion (bookends) over and over, to make them attention-getting, confident, clear, concise and memorable.
• Rehearse your slides to iron out the frames, word cues, summaries, transitions and get comfortable with your story-line.
• Run through the entire presentation several times, from beginning to end, locking in your flow and timing.
• Now be ten times louder and more excited – to unleash all your energy and self-expression (this is a rehearsal technique only).
• Finally, let it all go and be yourself, but on purpose.
Now, at this point, not only will you have avoided death by PowerPoint, you will be a force of nature!