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How I Learnt to Tell a Story with PowerPoint

I feel very lucky to start my career in the core marketing field with one of the most iconic brands in the world. I started working when I was 22 and imagine a 22 year old me joining a marketing team which has a collective experience of more than 50 years and here I literally start my work on the blank page.

Back in college days, MS Office as a tool was only used when we had to submit any project assignments. I remember my first extensive use of MS PowerPoint during my MBA days where I was supposed to present a case on a bathroom and kitchen furnishing brand ‘American Standard’. Like most of the students do, I used Wikipedia to copy the company and products information and used Google to download some pics. Thank god Google was existing that time. Even with 20+ slides full of text and few images, I was the top 3 presenters during the project submission.

Soon I realized after started working in my first job that ‘making PowerPoint slides’ and ‘presenting PowerPoint slides’ are two different skills. And the combination of these two makes you a great presenter. Slowly and gradually, I started acquiring this skill and over the years I could get better at this. Incidentally in 2016/2017, I got to participate in a 2 day training programme on ‘Making Impactful Presentations’ where I was awarded with Best Presenter at the end of the session.

When I observe people using PowerPoint, I feel that they are not using the full potential of this amazing tool and they can do much much better by applying small techniques which will enhance their presentation with a huge margin.

Here are few things which I learnt from my personal experience on using PowerPoint

Finding The Problem Statement

Most important step. Identify the purpose of your presentation. Are you making this PPT to provide some information? You want to convince your audience on some topic? Or you want approval from your management on certain initiatives. Identifying the core issue and highlight that upfront.

Use Your Slides are Enablers

People make a mistake of relaying too much on the slides. This makes the slides ‘content heavy’ which literally means boring. Your slides are your enablers and you should use them just to support you delivering the presentation. Consider them as people pushing your car to give you a head start. Mention key information with lesser text and rest can be communicated verbally.

Always Tell a ‘Story’

Your audience is not interested in the content at first. It might sound stupid but it is true. When you start the presentation, your audience wants to get engaged in you and get entertained. Only then they can pay attention to the ‘real content’ of your presentation. And to engage your audience, there is no better way than to start your piece with a story. People love stories. A story grabs the attention immediately and starts building the curiosity of the audience. Now I am not saying that start telling a random story which is not related to your topic of your presentation. But maybe an instance or a memory which is related to topic which makes your start interesting and helps grabbing the attention of your audience.

Pictures do the job

If your slides are filled with text and data then you probably do not need slides. Of course, there are exceptions. Sometimes during internal meetings you can use PowerPoint to showcase the data and some information. But if you are delivering a presentation to a larger audience with some specific topic then you must use some pictures to make your slides interesting. I always try to use the formula of 50-50. Which means, I ensure that at least 50 of the slide should be use for pictures. Sometimes you do not need additional information but a correct use of a picture delivers the message with high impact.

Think Like a TED Speaker

If you have seen any of the TED talks on YouTube, you would realize that those presenters are highly expert on their topic and they have enough knowledge to discuss the same for hours. But when it comes to presenting a topic, only knowledge is not sufficient. Usually TED talks are completely curated by the TED team but the fundamental reason behind why they retain the audience’s attention for so long is the good usage of their presentation screen.

The presenter will have very minimalistic use of the slides and most of the times it is just expressing the presenter’s point through an image or some infographics.

These are few points which I feel will be useful for you to tell a better story with PowerPoint.

Until next time, goodbye!

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