Speaker or Slides Feature

Speaker or Slides? Which Matter Most in a Presentation?

A very old member of our extended family was on her death bed when my father-in-law went to see her for the last time. She was one of the last of several generations of women who had mostly been, what she would have called, a housewife. As she lay in hospital there was no stepping delicately around the subject of her demise

‘You’ve had a good innings, Annie.’ He said

‘That I have’ she replied ‘but I wish I had spent less of my life dusting’.

A pithy comment that has stayed with me 20 years.

And while dusting may not be so common in the era of handheld vacuums, I have a replacement item on my list of pointless wasted hours of humanity. PowerPoint presentations! Specifically creating and perfecting presentations.

Why wasted?

Because the obvious but largely overlooked truth is that the slides rarely matter much and the presenter is everything. And yet endless hours are wasted by keen young professionals, slogging over 40 – 100 slide decks.

Speaker or Slides

I could write a whole book about the importance of consistent fonts, using the grid so everything looks neat, sticking to a colour palette, placement of pictures and text boxes.  Many have already written that book.  And I do care that slides are neat and useful and not distracting.

But the one thing that too many presenters completely ignore, is preparing for their own performance. A memorable, useful presentation is a performance. This is what we mean when we say you are the hero of your presentation. It is mostly about you!

As my colleague, Eric Dixon always says, if a presentation is just about sharing information, it is more efficient to send an email. If you are asking a group of people to listen to you for 20 minutes (or heaven forbid an hour) , the thing that will define that experience for them will not be the slides. It will be your performance.

If you halve the hours you spend preparing the slides and instead spend the time standing front of a mirror (or video camera) and practiseing your talk, you will be able to deliver much better value to your audience. Is there anyone out there who disagrees with me on this?

For more on this:

Harvard Business Review How to Give a Killer Presentation

Forbes 5 Principles For Making PowerPoint Slides With Impact

Hubspot 11 Public Speaking Tips From the World’s Best Speakers & Communication Experts

Our blogs:

Dull Presentations are Endemic but Can Be Avoided

Great science presentations: TED Talk case study

Want professional coaching for a presentation? We can help, online or in person. Call 020 7099 2212.  Or email enquiries@themediacoach.co.uk

Image from iStock

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