PowerPoint, Memory and Visual Storytelling


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Users of PowerPoint like it because it’s easy to create and modify presentations and that’s the good news. The bad news is when you are on the other side of the presentation – in the audience as a salesperson at a kick-off, or as a prospective customer in a sales or marketing presentation or in a business setting.

The fact that it’s easy to create presentations is part of the problem with the whole Powerpoint metaphor. To be more accurate, it’s easy to create bad presentations in PowerPoint.

I attend a lot of sales kick-offs events to run Whiteboardselling enablement to train people in visual story-telling using a whiteboard and I see many Powerpoint presentations in the course of the day or so I am in attendance.

I have been thinking about the persistence of the average Powerpoint slide that I see at these events (maybe an image combined with 5-6 bullets and maybe a couple of sub bullets) on memory and I created a brief video to make my point.

Of course it’s not the medium, it’s the message that matters and Microsoft’s
Powerpoint team is not responsible for the sins of millions of presenters that use it every day.

John Bohannon: Dance vs. powerpoint, a modest proposal

Scientist Bonannon’s thesis is that the avergae PowerPoint presentation is incredibly wasteful because it is so poorly done by most practitioners. He adds;

  • PowerPoint creates the illusion of competence in the presenter,
  • the illusion of simplicity in the subject, and
  • an illusion of understanding in the audience.

Dance your PhD thesis: Pigeon Dance

I watched this three times, – fascinating!

Storytelling with metaphor and simple hand-drawn images

I saw a presentation by Dan Heath last year that created a lasting impression in my mind….he put the image on the screen which I have redrawn below and told stories about the difficulty of making a change using this metaphor.

One story that sticks in my mind is the person trying to lose weight. make a switchImagine you are the mahout riding the elephant….you are the conscious mind that wants to lose weight. Who do you think is going to win when the elephant (unconscious mind) wants to go to the fridge for a snack at 11PM in the evening. The elephant wins of course, which is why making a change (SWITCH) is so difficult.

Switch is a great book that uses stories to show that successful changes follow a pattern – (“this way”), a pattern you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your waistline.”

A Guide to Engaging Sales Presentations – Do not use PowerPoint

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mark Gibson
Mark Gibson has been at the forefront of developing sales and marketing tools that create clarity in messaging value for 30 years. As a consultant he is now engaged in helping sales, marketing and enablement teams to get clear about value creation. Clarity attracts inbound leads, clarity converts visitors into leads and leads into customers, clarity builds mindshare, clarity engages customers, clarity differentiates value, clarity helps onboard new hires clarity helps raise funds, clarity + execution win markets.


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