March 19, 2024

Happy Birthday PowerPoint


Do you know that this year marks the 35th anniversary of PowerPoint’s existence? It was launched in the same year that the film When Harry Met Sally premiered, and Madonna released the song Like a Prayer. So, Happy Birthday PowerPoint!

Perhaps you can remember the exciting transition from the overhead projector to adding clip art and funky slide transitions to your presentations.

While the features of PowerPoint have evolved, do you know what hasn’t changed over the past 35 years? Our over-reliance on PowerPoint to communicate information.

  • Bullet Points over stories (oh the irony of using a bullet point here)
  • Quantity of content over quality
  • Talking to text heavy slides over engaging activities

Advice for PowerPoint Use

Recently someone asked me my thoughts on an activity they were planning to do in a 90-minute presentation. I recommended the following which is relevant to anyone who wants to include an activity when presenting information.

The reason you do an activity is to:

✅ Help the audience experience your point as opposed to telling them your point.

✅ Get the audience engaged and involved.

BUT… don’t only do an activity for this reason. If your audience see it as an ‘ice breaker’ they will most likely consider it a waste of time.

Things to Watch Out For

⏰ The time spent on the activity needs to be proportionate to how important your message is. For example, if the activity will take 30 minutes in a 90-minute presentation it would want to be your top one or two messages. If not, then the activity should take up less time.

🧐 Activities can take a lot longer than you think, so make sure you have planned it out carefully.

My three tips for this are:

  1. The set up should be very easy to explain.
  2. The activity should be simple to execute.
  3. The debrief is the most important part.

Let me repeat that – the debrief is the most important part. So always allow more time for that.

Often people think activities are only for training workshops, but they can be effective whenever you are presenting information.

This is one of the many things I cover in my Powerful Presentations workshop.

Presentation Training

Does your team have the capability and confidence to move away from presenting text heavy content on PowerPoint slides? If not, why not give them the skills to improve their presentations – both in person and virtually. If this sounds like something your team needs, contact us to discuss my half-day Powerful Presentations course (which can be run virtually or in person).

Let’s help to finally eliminate Death by PowerPoint this year because 35 years is too long. 👊