What is “ bullshit shine” you ask? It’s a phrase used by car showroom salesmen to describe the elbow grease, hard work and effort to polish a second hand car to attract the eye and favour of the potential buyer. Of course the gleam of the paintwork has nothing whatsoever to do with the merits of the car itself, though the naïve and unwary punter is fooled into believing it.
PowerPoint has nothing to do with the quality of your presentation – it is the ‘bullshit shine’, which can fool not the audience but the naïve and unwary presenter. Now I’m not suggesting that anyone is trying to pull the wool over the audience’s eyes when PowerPoint is used. However, it can look so glossy and seductive, it is tempting to think that what is needed is to cram slide after slide into a presentation. ‘Death by PowerPoint’ is a well-worn phrase to describe all those presenters who were seduced to their destruction! US Navy Secretary Richard Danzig has said of many PowerPoint presentations at the Pentagon:
“The idea behind most of these briefings is for us to sit through 100 slides with our eyes glazed over, and then to do what all military organizations hope for … to surrender to an overwhelming mass.”
I am a diva when it comes to PowerPoint. When I am presenting I resent anything that will upstage me. I like to have my audience looking at and engaging with me. Anything that draws their eyes away from me diminishes my message. And when 73% of all decision-making is based on emotion, then when I am making a pitch, I am recruiting the unconscious processes in my audience to reinforce my persuasive message by developing an influential relationship with them. So if anything pulls on their attention, it better be good and I better be in control of it!
“The people who dwelt in darkness….”One the most basic of no nos to my mind is to have this glorious Technicolor screen with super whizzy effects when the presenter is in darkness! What is that about? When I was at Microsoft presenting a while ago, I said that I wasn’t going to use PP, just flip chart and talk. Try as we might, we couldn’t find a decent light to shine on me whilst I presented! The light was devoted to the screen. I hate to be in the dark with a glowing screen demanding to be looked at instead of me! As I said, if I am going to reach my audience, then it’ll be me they need to see.
How much real learning is taking place? In the BBC Radio 4 programme “Word Of Mouth” on “Giving A Presentation” cited a few months ago a piece of research based on whether genuine learning took place amongst a group of college students when PowerPoint was used. The students acknowledged that they preferred it when their lecturers used PowerPoint, since they felt more entertained. However when they were examined to discover what they had absorbed, little real grasp and memory of the information had taken place especially when text was placed next to images on a slide.
Different areas of the brain employ different processes for either words or images. Therefore either words will be recognised and absorbed or images, not both at the same time. PowerPoint is at it’s most mightily effective when images alone are shown. You are then making a memorable point by illustrating it because you are recruiting the conscious thinking of your audience whilst looking at the screen and the unconscious awareness in absorbing what you say. Indeed this is a genuinely multi-sensory approach that creates a sticky message.
I confess I am suspicious of any technology – period! I need to be reassured that it can deliver the outcome I want. And unless there is emotional engagement with the audience then I have to ask why use it. When PowerPoint is used to tell a story, to illustrate a point (and not distract from it) and sparingly, then it has huge and lasting impact. However thanks to widespread misuse, sadly most audiences seeing a presenter fiddling with a laptop and checking slides settle down with a groan and the expectation that they are to endure another boring presentation
So really, if you are serious about presenting, ask what you want and is PowerPoint the best way to get it. Or will you be fooled by the ‘bullshit shine’?
Email me email@example.com or phone 07939 261743 if you want to follow up on any thoughts you have about getting your presentation to stick in the minds of your audience. I’d be happy to discuss things with you.
Anrah Training and Development
CSSD (1974), London Univ, member of the British Voice Association
“As a professional speaker I am always looking for an edge to improve the impact I am able to make. Sarah has an amazing ability to connect with you, understand your desired goals and then empower you with tools that deliver results. If you want to take your communication skills to the next level then work with Sarah.” Paul Avins, Professional Speaker