Presentation = PowerPoint?!

By / Corporate Storytelling

Who wrote the equation “Presentation = PowerPoint?” I am sure it was a product manager at Microsoft.  Congratulations Microsoft, well done. The problem? It is not true. Believe it or not, there were presentations before PowerPoint. For your next presentation, think about integrating other media.

I have seen each of these media choices work well during presentations:

  • Photographs – I mean high resolution pictures. Not clip art or the modern manifestation I see floating around many organizations. Pictures. Images. And, if you use PowerPoint to display the picture, have the picture cover the entire slide. Yes, the entire slide. Even the template your marketing department gave you (sorry Marketing).
  • Drawings – Use a flip chart or whiteboard occasionally. This media is perfect for more conceptual ideas and to foster interactions. And, yes, it can be used in formal events.
  • Video – If you do not use video today, I want to introduce you to a website. YouTube. Everyday people upload over 300,000 videos to the site. Right now, people all over the world are streaming videos from YouTube, news sources, and social media to their phones/TVs/tablets/computers. Yet, most people do not use videos in presentations. Most of us are presenting as if it is still 1995. Those of you that remember foils, transparencies, and overheads…how are modern slides different than the foils 20 of years ago? I would argue that many modern slides are worse! Also, like Photographs, have these cover the entire slide or blackout the background.
  • Physical Objects – Some of the most memorable presentations I have ever seen used a physical object to make a point. Steven Covey delivered his time-honored message using physical objects. See Dr. Stephen Covey – Big Rocks. Very impactful.
  • You – You are a visual aid. The audience needs to look at you in order to connect with you and build trust. If you have a slide up there the whole time, they aren’t likely to do that.
  • Other – We have seen many other media used in presentations including posters, handouts, and role plays.

What is the right answer? Think about your message first, then consider what media would be most effective at communicating parts of the message. After coaching 1000’s of presentations, I have found that just changing the media midstream makes the presentation inherently more interesting. Disrupting patterns helps keep people engaged. If you don’t disrupt the “PowerPoint slide” pattern it’s easy to lull them to sleep.

As a Corporate Storyteller, I work with my clients extensively on creating remarkably good messages. Then, we look at best media to bring the message alive. Often, PowerPoint is involved. But, the best presentations I have ever seen were not exclusively PowerPoint. If you want to be remarkable, think beyond PowerPoint.

What is the highest impact use of non-PowerPoint materials you have seen?


Tom Peurach is a Corporate Storyteller with Articulus. His expertise is in the ability to create and deliver clear, compelling, and concise messages. He trains people in Corporate Storytelling and consults with individuals/groups/companies on high stakes presentations/conversations.