Is there anything more tedious than listening to someone talk their way through a long, dull deck? Face it guys, PowerPoint is boring. It’s the default mode of presenting, and I understand why that is; it’s easy, familiar, cheap, and you can store it on a USB key.
It’s not exactly innovative though.
If you’re presenting on something genuinely important, whether it’s earning a promotion or pitching for new business, it might be time to try something new. If you’re aiming to be memorable, dare to be different.
Here are three ideas for something new that’s bound to set you apart from your competitors. Try them, combine them and enhance them – and don’t forget to leave me a comment on your best alternatives to a snooze-fest presentation.
1. Try TED-style storytelling
While TED speakers often have slides or some video in the background to add to their talks, the content of the slides is never the primary focus. TED speakers are coached in taking topics that are complicated, breaking them down to a level that almost anyone can understand, and most importantly, wrapping the idea up in a relatable, interesting story.
Check out Derek Silvers three-minute video below talking about how to start a movement:
It’s a story that’s told in the kind of language we use every day, it’s human, and it’s easy to listen to. Strong oral skills are vital for this kind of presentation, because people respond well to confidence and charisma. If you don’t feel those areas are your strong suit, don’t worry, because those are features that to a large extent can be learned. Make sure to put plenty of practice in.
2. Let’s get visual
Please, oh please, spare me the dated stock photos. You can do so much better. If you’re going to use background imagery, choose pictures that are vibrant and colourful. All you need to create a decent behind-the-scenes video these days is an iPhone, a mic and a tripod. If you’ve got a graphic designer on your team (or even a very modest freelancer budget for the likes of UpWork), you can create all kinds of good stuff – Can you tell your story in the form of a comic strip? Would that eyesore of a table of numbers come across better as an infographic?
For a real wow factor, could you bring a cartoonist into the meeting with you? Or a graffiti artist? With nothing but a marker and a blank sheet of paper, could you create a picture together that shows how you’re going to get from where you are now to where you need to be? Don’t let a culture of “we’ve always done it that way” kill your creativity.
3. Get your audience involved with some gamification
Keep your audience interested by making them participate. Listening to one person speak for any more than a couple of minutes will send anyone into a stupor. Do Dragon’s Den-style demonstrations (I think the US version is called Shark Attack, American friends). Pass around prototypes and props and ask for live feedback.
With larger audiences, you can use polling apps to carry out quizzes and surveys on the spot. Ask interesting questions that will make your audience think twice. Give out a spot prize to someone who gets a tough question right. Pit one half of the room against the other to bring out their competitive spirits. Gamify the experience to increase their interest.
So there you have it – a bunch of alternatives to the same old, same old. Maybe these ideas won’t work for every single presentation. There are, of course, times when the faithful old PowerPoint may just be the best option. But when you really want to make a splash, taking a chance on one of these ‘crazy’ ideas just might work.
What are your thoughts? Am I being too harsh, or do you think PowerPoint is boring too? I want to hear from you in the comments!
Katie Harrington is a Communications and Content professional based in Dublin, Ireland. Her book, Strategic Communications: The Science Behind the Art launched in November 2016. Katie has worked with global brands including Emirates Airline and Allianz, as well as in the Irish parliament and Qatar’s semi-government oil and gas company Nakilat. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.