+44 (0) 1727 843820 paul@impro.org.uk

 The point is not the powerpoint

There were at least 20 presentations during the conference I attended recently, and in half of them the PowerPoint was not starting on time. That’s to say that the audience watched the presenter fumbling with projection equipment and computers before the presentation began.

If the PowerPoint is not starting on time, then neither is the presenter. And this is a horrible and distracting waste of everyone’s time. Not to mention being completely unnecessary.

Given the high risk of technical equipment not being ready when everyone else is, it makes sense for any presenter to take the simple precaution or having something to say in such an event. If something goes wrong or is simply not quite ready (a switch-over or a warm-up), then while an assistant fixes your slides, you dazzlingly engage the audience with your introduction or a question about the topic.

No assistant? Then, like a magician, you distract the audience with your opening question to them, buying time to muster that pesky first slide.

Better still, we know people love talking to each other, so you could start your presentation by having them take two minutes talking to their neighbour about the topic you are going to present. Then your talk is seen to be tailored to your audience, as you respond to their comments.

An inspirational presenter doesn’t get distracted sorting out a slideshow. If you do, you are in danger of losing your time, your poise and your audience.

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