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Fall Back in Love PowerPoint
Published Tuesday, March 14, 2017

For some people, PowerPoint presentations don't seem to be as effective as they'd like when it comes to making a message stick. They want their presentations to compel people into action and drive results, including sales. However, instead of focusing strictly on slides, these people might consider organizing the framework of their presentations around ideas. 

Science shows that the brain is wired to process ideas. It does not, however, traffic well at the level of facts and data. Thus, the path to truly effective communication–and making PowerPoint more effective–is to conceptualize your talk with the following points in mind:

Clarify your Ideas

The best communications powerfully land a small number of big ideas. Think Steve Jobs or the last TED talk you watched. Ask yourself what outcome are you seeking and what argument will lead to that outcome? That's where you'll find the core ideas you should focus on.

Orient Your Communication Around These Ideas

Then, create a narrative flow in a logical sequence from one idea to the next–NOT from one fact or data point to the next. Facts and data are still important as illustrations or demonstrations of your ideas, but they are the supporting cast. At the core, the presentation is about the ideas.

Recognize the Brain’s Capacity and Simplify

Even the sharpest human brain has a surprisingly limited capacity when it comes to taking in new information. To work around this, you’ll need to simplify your presentation, reducing both quantity and complexity.

Rehearse, With No Slides as Crutches.

Unpalatable as it might sound, it’s crucial to stand up and talk through an ideas-driven narrative with no slides as crutches before going live. This ensures that you actually know your subject and that your message comes out as you’d like it to.

Once you’ve shifted to an idea-based approach, you can use a simple Word document to map out your story and can ultimately incorporate great visuals as complements rather than prompts.

Tim Pollard is founder and CEO of Oratium in Montana, a communications firm helping organizations from Fortune 500 companies to law offices improve their presentation and messaging skills.

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