12. December 2011 15:44
Fearless pharma blogger Maxine Vaccine asks why so many business presentations communicate about as well as a cellphone on ‘silent’ in a bottomless pit with no battery.
Presentation is supposed to be what all of us business types are really good at. Getting an audience engaged, holding their attention, winning their trust, putting your message across. Actors are trained in voice projection and communication skills – in making their presence felt. Verily, it is not rocket science. But when business people need to address an audience, what dramatic strategy do they employ? PowerPoint.
Recently, Microsoft PowerPoint celebrated 25 years of boring audiences to tears at corporate events worldwide. It’s the business equivalent of your friends inviting you round to see their holiday slides.
Some PowerPoint presentations, inevitably, are worse than others. A screen filled with the words that are being read out to you is a world of tedium. A screen filled with facts and figures you can barely read, forcing you to ignore the speaker’s voice while you struggle to extract the salient facts, should be banned under international law. And a screen where words and icons move around, and acronyms spell themselves out like electronic cheerleaders... words fail me. As, apparently, they do the speaker.
That’s the crux of it. PowerPoint detracts from the integrity and force of human presentation. It makes you choose between listening and reading. However slickly the graphics move, the result is a static audience experience in which the message is drained of energy. Which is why it’s the presentation mode of choice for corporate bores and fakers everywhere.
Another world is possible. Use relevant images, not printed words, to illustrate your presentation. Restrict your screen text to a few crucial facts and quotes. Better still, give your audience something unexpected: a dramatic role play, a practical demonstration, a staged encounter with a heckler, a memorable video clip. If the context is too serious and professional for such tactics, then just talk. We’re supposed to be good at that.
Maxine Vaccine is keen to receive your feedback on these and other pharma industry issues. Be nice (but don’t be NICE)!