Tuesday, June 10, 2008

PowerPoint - Presentation Tool or Leave Behind?

So do you use PowerPoint as a presentation tool, a leave behind, both, or neither?

Presentation Tool - As a presentation tool, used properly, PowerPoint can lend powerful visual and emotional enhancements to a well told story. That means using impactful visuals and very few words. You want your audience to pay attention to you, not simply read your remarks on a screen (as if you don't even need to be in the room).

Leave Behind - I recall when PowerPoint was first introduced into the workplace, people used it for the live presentation, but always drafted a complete narrative in the form of a Word document as a leave behind. Over time, people quickly surmised that if they're going to bullet point everything they're going to say anyway, then the PowerPoint presentation can double as the leave behind, saving lots of work by not having to create a separate Word document.

Consider of course that the purpose of the leave behind is so that later (whether having previously seen the presentation or not) someone can read the document in an unassisted environment and unequivocally grasp its purpose. Well, if you use PowerPoint as stated above, then it's going to fail miserably as a leave behind. What to do...

Both - The only way to use PowerPoint for both the presentation and the leave behind is to create two documents - the first designed as a presentation document and the second as a self explanatory leave behind. While I wouldn't go so far as to say this never works very well, I'm almost there. I just don't believe it competes with the difference in mindset one has when using Powerpoint versus Word. (BTW, if you do use PPT for both, just don't pass out your leave behind during the presentation. There's a reason it's referred to as the "leave behind.")

Neither - For those of you who are addicted to PowerPoint as if it's nicotine, consider trying other creative ways to make your case or tell your story. After delivering your presentation, try an alternative means of making your presentation stick with your audience. There's more to life than the PowerPoint leave behind.

Tomorrow, I thought I'd end the week with a Stamp Out Bad PowerPoint Toolkit including the all new "PowerPoint Patch" which works just like the nicotine patch. (PPT Gum waiting FDA Approval)

See you then!


  1. My thoughts on the PPoint as a leave behind is that there shouldn't be enough detail on the slides to be useful to someone. So that means , not so good as a leave behind. If you have so much on your slides that folks can read/use them without you talking, then there is way too much content there.

  2. Thanks Josh. My point exactly. Try to make it work for both purposes and something's gotta give!



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