Is PowerPoint the enemy?

1: A standing ovation following a TED talk is a rare occurrence.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield had the TED audience on their feet after his 2014 talk “What I learned from going blind in space.”  

The critical moment of Chris’s story?

When his eyes slammed shut in the middle of a space walk while his spaceship was traveling around the world at five miles per second, Carmine Gallo shares in his riveting book The Storyteller’s Secret.

2: Chris’ strategy to transport his audience into his spaceship?

Visuals.

His PowerPoint deck included 35 slides.  

All photos.  No text.

“I’m a big believer in the power of a compelling visual,” says Chris.  “A really good visual isn’t just beautiful; it makes you think. You draw conclusions from the depth of the information that’s in it.”

Why he was inspired to be an astronaut at an early age?  Chris showed a photo of himself as a nine-year-old inside a cardboard box rocket.  

To trigger a deep emotional reaction of what it feels like to be scared?  He showed photos of a black widow and a brown recluse.

3: Our slide deck should complement the story we are telling.  Not mirror it.

Audiences become bored and restless when our words and our slides are the same.  “Using pictures to tell stories is a technique well established in the neuroscience literature,” writes Carmine.  

The research shows people can “remember more than 2,500 pictures with at least 90 percent accuracy several days post-exposure, even though subjects saw each picture for about 10 seconds,” writes Molecular biologist John Medina

“Accuracy rates a year later still hovered around 63 percent.”

Contrast this with 10 percent recall when we simply hear information.

John calls our ability to recall images “truly Olympian”.

Ever seen a PowerPoint slide containing more than 200 words?

That’s a “document masquerading as PowerPoint slides,” Carmine observes.  

“PowerPoint is not the enemy,” he writes.  “A lack of creativity is the culprit.”

More tomorrow.

____________________

Reflection: What’s the ratio of words to pictures in my typical PowerPoint presentation?

Action:  For my next presentation, be intentional about adding images or visuals to replace what I would normally present as text.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *