For some time now I have been trying to persuade business leaders to cut their umbilical attachment to PowerPoint. So often it really serves only to get in the way of a presentation rather than enhance it. This is particularly true when you are trying to influence in what might be described as a political environment.
So it was particularly gratifying to work last week with a Belgian Chief Executive who was off to Washington DC to make a speech at a lunch he was hosting. Present were the Crown Prince of Belgium, senior Belgian government ministers and US politicians all with an interest in his particular sector. His objective was to raise his company’s profile amongst this august audience and to ensure that it would be to him they turned to when considering policy affecting his industry.
His initial stab contained the inevitable PowerPoint – acceptable for an internal presentation – but really out of place for this “political” speech. After all, how many major politicians do you see using PowerPoint in their speeches?
My client worked diligently and we even had a final rehearsal by phone after he had arrived in Washington. He decided to throw away his slides.
This is what he had to say:
“The speech today went very, very well. I received compliments from almost everyone including a number of the Ministers. We clearly achieved our objective with the event of putting our company on the map with Belgian politicians as well as pointing out the importance of consistency. During the discussion at the table following my speech, I was able to go more in-depth on the long-term issues and received a lot of support. Now we of course need to turn these politicians’ words into actions …
Thank you for all your help – it really made a difference in my performance.”
Think very carefully about whether those slides are really necessary. Remember, the best visual aid is you and people buy off people not slides.