Love it or hate it, PowerPoint is the go-to technology to accompany the almost-daily brigade of presentations we engage with – new business pitching, internal briefings, quarterly meetings (the list goes on). Your eyelids are getting heavy, the tiny text starts to bleed into the background, couldn’t this have been put into a tidy memo that I could have ignored on my desk? Alas, this is not always an option, so knowing some appropriate alternatives, may be useful in avoiding the death-by-PowerPoint monotony.
1. Fly solo
No visual aid: A novel idea, I know. Often, PowerPoint is used as a crutch — a clever diversion to draw audience eyes away from the nervous presenter. Although it takes a brave soul, consider if PowerPoint slides are in fact enhancing any of your speaking points. If the information is simply being repeated on a slide, it may not be necessary. Go forth & conquer the boardroom, sans aid.
2. A dizzying array of options
SlideRocket, Google Docs, Prezi, Zoho Show, shall I go on? These are just a handful of the available presentation technologies that have emerged to offer a varied (and often more engaging) alternative to PowerPoint. Prezi is my personal favorite. It takes your audience through an animated road map that allows for as much, or as little content as desired. Prezi is a free, simple to use and still fairly untapped presentation resource. The element of surprise is always a refreshing treat for those waiting to hear yet another riveting Q3 update.
3. Old faithful
PowerPoint is the office standard, and sometimes it's your only choice for a presentation aid. Deep breath ... this is okay, you will make it out alive. Just remember the time-old advice: Limit your text, do not simply repeat your speaking points, and for goodness sake only create slides that enhance the content of your presentation. Most importantly, factor in the audience, nature of content, length, etc. It’s not rocket science people, it’s just a PowerPoint (but, please, try and make it interesting).
4. Real time
Never underestimate the power of a white board, chart paper, even a piece of chalk. It is completely acceptable to use your surroundings, and often refreshing. It can be interesting for audiences to see you jot down a key word, or interesting point as you go. Think about the classic movie scene where the new teacher introduces herself to the class, writing her name on the chalkboard (often underlined for dramatic flare). You can picture it clearly in your mind, right? That's the proof of how effective this approach can be.
5. Master the presentation itself
This may seem like a displaced alternative, but above all else, a presentational aid is only as good as the presenter. Be sure to take advantage of any professional resources made available to you. Join Toastmasters, propose presentation skills training at work, or contact a vocal coach. And practice, practice, practice. These days, it is common to present via Skype or intraweb videoconference, and raw presentation skills are the only thing transmitted through a webcam.
Laura works in marketing communications at NATIONAL Public Relations, specializing in consumer goods, event planning and media relations. Working with some of Canada’s more successful and emerging brands, Laura helps to build brand equity, drive sales, and give a presentation whenever the opportunity arises.