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Better presentations, less PowerPoint

Recently I went to see a presentation by Jim Gray, who is described as “a leading speaker, communication skills coach and media strategist”. A former CBC journalist, Mr. Gray lives in Toronto and contributes to the Globe and Mail. You can find him online at www.jimgray.ca [1]

In an age when we all seem addicted to bloated PowerPoint presentations -– sadly, me too –- it was impressive to see someone hold the audience’s attention just by speaking. This would be a persuasive and powerful skill for any executive to have in his or her tool kit.

What a refreshing change to see an hour-long presentation with one slide! That’s right… 60 MINUTES & JUST ONE SLIDE!

Of course, few of us have the speaking skill of Jim Gray. He was in town to promote his new book called “How Leaders Speak”, and his talk was a sort of “media skills lite”, very practical and interesting. And he did show half-a-dozen short video clips to keep the audience engaged and demonstrate his key points. Most of the videos were clips of politicians giving speeches, ranging from Trudeau to Harper and George W. to Obama. Mr. Grey kindly distributed free copies of his book to attendees. I’ve only skimmed it so far, but it looks to be packed full of helpful info.

Of course it takes some work, mainly lots of preparation and practice, to become a smooth and confident speaker who doesn’t need the crutch of PowerPoint.

For those who want a more free-flowing style but aren’t ready to give up the structure and aide-memoire of canned visuals, maybe Prezi is an interim step. Prezi is a presentation tool that provides an experience more like looking at a huge pre-written flipchart or chalkboard than slides; you can zoom in and out and move freely between ideas.

It’s a visual concept that is hard to explain in words, but you’ll get the idea immediately when you see it. You can watch a demo and sign up for a free web-based Prezi tool at http://prezi.com/hgjm18z36h75/why-should-you-move-beyond-slides/ [2]

But regardless of what presentation style and tools you use, wouldn’t you like to streamline your presentations so they go faster and yield more effective communication?

P.S. By the way, Mr. Gray’s one slide was the cover of his book. How’s that for communicating effectively?