Long before we know exactly what we’re going to present or have thought about our plan, we often have the reflex to think about the support. So, we start looking for PowerPoint templates or Keynote examples, in order to stand out during our presentation. Lost between the many existing models and the messages we want to deliver to our audience, we tend to fill the slides with words, diagrams and images, as if it were above all a competition on visual presentations. This practice is certainly not the best method. Which makes us wonder: What should be favored? The slides or the message delivered thanks to the slides? The container, the content or the form? In other words, does the medium used accentuate the impact of our message and how to amplify the impact of that message to leave its mark on the audience? Slide or no slide, what to do?
Let’s do a little experiment. If I say “presentation,” what do you think about? I would bet my bottom dollar that indeed for most of you the sweet word “PowerPoint” would come to mind, the red color of its icon and the image of scrolling slides that you can clearly visualize. There is indeed the unfortunate tendency to reduce the exercise of presenting to PowerPoint. But this is where we go wrong, because above all, presenting is about developing your ability to get your audience on board, to make them want to move the lines and change things. However, PowerPoint alone doesn’t have this power!
Structure before painting
To get your audience on board and generate their support, even before asking yourself if you need PowerPoint, you have to go through the work of structuring and narrating. What is the idea? What should I change in the minds of the people listening to me? What is the problem that needs to be solved? What is my promise of change?
So, refrain from opening PowerPoint and choose instead to use a notebook, post-its, or even a Word document to address these key questions before anything else. You must first concentrate your efforts on the structure of your words before thinking about formatting.
Nevertheless, in our daily lives, it is rather the opposite phenomenon that we observe: speakers who build their PowerPoint directly without going through the structure step and just commenting on their slides. The result often leaves something to be desired: a bored and disinterested audience and good ideas that will never see the light of day, because they have not been well presented. But all of this still doesn’t tell us whether we should favor presentations with or without slides…
So, concretely, slides or no slides?
At ZEPRESENTERS, we tend to recommend slides in most cases, and for a simple reason: we consider that a message has 7 times more impact when associated with an image. Your slides are therefore the chance for you to amplify your message and to anchor it all the more into the minds of your audience. There is nothing more effective than ensuring consistency between your speech, the content of your slides, and the combination of images and message.
Slides yes, but not any old how
If we recommend slides for the impact they can have on your message, any slide is not good for presenting! Overloaded slides are to be banned, just like the so-called “wallpaper” slides, which only need to be used for decorating. There are several simple rules to optimize the impact of your slides:
– Favor stripped-down slides
The freedom to choose is yours
At the end of the day, you are free to do whatever you want and choose whether or not to use a medium, depending on the context. We are more and more steered toward preparing short and informal interventions, where a visual aid may not have its place. Trust your good judgment of the situation to make the best decision.
At the moment, typically speaking via video calls, which are multiplying, are not particularly conducive to visual aids, due to connection difficulties encountered. It may be more advisable to favor an intervention without visual tools, but with well-structured and worked-out remarks and possibly sending out a document after the fact.
Presenting without slides is not a challenge
The ultimate mistake would be to launch into a presentation without slides, on the pretext that you want to take up a challenge. Or, indulge in the new fashion of Pecha Kucha for example, which requires you to present 20 successive slides every 20 seconds.
This type of format, which imposes format constraints to the detriment of the background is counterproductive. Your slides are not there to take up a challenge, play with or test new formats, but to be useful to you. Finally, to address the question of slides or no slides, the best answer that we can offer you is the following: “Slides if they are useful to you.”