The PowerPoint Problem
PowerPoint was created over 30 years ago...
…and its basic structure hasn’t changed. We still get to present (or be pitched) page after page, like a book. (unless you are a highly skilled professional in the art of designing PowerPoint presentations in which case you will be able to create more interactive experiences.)
Death by PowerPoint is not about the audience’s death, but the end of your sales process (or funding conversation, staff training, idea pitching …)
People do not consume information like slides anymore.
However, people have changed and the way we consume and comprehend information has changed. We don’t want to be talked at anymore and prefer conversation and collaboration to reach conclusions.
We need to engage our stakeholders in the discovery process with visual storytelling and conversation to overcome the problem of very short attention spans in our audiences today.
Harvard says: Stop using PowerPoint, it's damaging your brand and your company.
Because of that dissonance between how PowerPoint presents and how people consume information today, Death by PowerPoint indeed happens, our brains disengage as soon as we are “pitched at” and that’s the end of our sales process, or generally speaking our ability to communicate effectively.
Is Anybody Out There?
When we hand over a hard or digital copy of our presentation, we lose touch with the process (for example, we don’t know if our prospect or investor is looking at our deck, for how long, or even which parts is she spending the most time and what is most important even, who is she sharing the presentation with.)
We also don’t know how much PowerPoint is damaging our efforts to communicate effectively*.
(* Unless we implement complex, old-minded, PowerPoint-ish tracking techniques, we don’t know what’s going on, and one of the big black holes in any sales pipeline is “handing over” a copy of our presentation.)
A waste of Talent and Resources.
It is notable how companies invest enormous amounts of talent, time, energy, and money into building a brand, corporate culture and creating the best products and services, and then fall short of showing those achievements by presenting using old ways that are damaging to their image and lack accountability.
Slides are easy and Conversational is hard.
Presenting with PowerPoint is easy, but only for the presenter. Presenting in a linear way is a safe haven, we don’t need to expose ourselves and take responsibility for our prospects and audiences; someone did that when wrote the pitch and made the PowerPoint, I just have to click my way through the presentation delivering the same pitch over and over, making sure that I covered most of my prospect’s possible questions, and leaving little room for actual conversation and discovery.
Because we were born with PowerPoint as the de-facto model and is so ingrained in the way we see the world of presentations, we struggle with change. PowerPoint is part of our culture.
New technologies usually slowly creep in our lives in the form of updates and upgrades (PowerPoint is an excellent example) and we don’t realize how those technologies impact us and the way we do business.
However, from time to time, a new technology pops up that prompts us for a mindset switch, to make the change in a conscious way. Think switching from VHRs to DVDs. Remember BlockBuster? They chose to stick to the old ways.
Changing mindsets is more difficult than adapting to changes that happen over time, and thus we struggle to change from pitch to Conversational Presenting because it means seeing how we interact with our prospects and stakeholders in a new way.
Luckily, Conversational Presenting is not rocket-science and with quick and specific coaching it can transform the way we connect with our audiences; it all comes down to understanding that the content is structured in a different way, that is easier for us to manage and for our audiences to understand.