Let’s make something clear: PowerPoint is evil.
This may strike you as being an overstatement. Evil? Seriously?
Seriously. PowerPoint truly sucks. It has single-handedly ruined hundreds of thousands of presentations and corrupted many otherwise intelligent speakers.
My advice? Don’t use it.
Why is this software so insidious? Why should it be avoided like Black Plague? Simply put, PowerPoint offers exactly the kind of crutch to public speakers that they should never rely upon. It is the public speaking equivalent of a narcotic — it feels good while you’re using it, if used without moderation, it impairs your chance of success and may ruin it completely.
PowerPoint is designed to be a speaker’s helper. It is supposed to frame your main points in a colorful and powerful way, support your themes with both images and quotes and generally serve as an instructive helper. PowerPoint is supposed to be there when you need it and gone when it is unnecessary.
Your best, worst friend
Unfortunately, PowerPoint has been overused, misused and downright abused. The result? The program become the functional equivalent of a heckler. For the majority of presenters that use it, PowerPoint does not in fact assist the speaker — just the opposite. It actually undercuts and tears down what would otherwise have been a coherent, thoughtful and successful speech.
Speeches that at one time would have been five minutes long, easy to follow and informative are now ten minutes long, contain fifty PowerPoint slides and are totally unintelligible. Rather than providing the audience with a handy set of guideposts to aid them in their journey through the presentation, PowerPoint users instead assault their senses with hundreds of unnecessary headings, bullet points, paragraphs of text and stock images that do nothing to bring the speech to life.
All of which goes to say: PowerPoint is evil.
However, … because I know that this program is incredibly prevalent these days, I’m going to proceed to give what I think are genuinely helpful tips from time to time on how to get the most out of PowerPoint. That’s right — I’m going to help you use a program that I really, really think you’re better off without. That may sound inconsistent, but it’s not. I would prefer for speakers to get along without it. But if they can’t, I want to help as much as I can.