A Power Point Presentation or Winging It? An Independent Consultant’s View

PowerPoint has always seemed to me to be a stiff and un-engaging way to make a presentation. I have never used a Power Point presentation over the decades of speaking engagements and workshop presentations I’ve done. I declined from using it primarily because it hindered me from connecting with my audience. When you are using Power Point, you tend not to be the focus of your audience, but rather what is on the screen is the audience’s focus.

The Power Point Presenter

A Power Point presenter can often disguise his level of competence by having his audience’s attention directed on the screen rather than on him. He can point to and read from the screen, rather than looking at and paying attention to the responses of the audience and appropriately adjusting to stay really engaged. In my work as an independent consultant, I present workshops as well as attend them. In one that I recently attended the presenter was so wedded to the Power Point presentation, that when the projector malfunctioned, he was totally flabbergasted and was unable to continue until he was able to get the projector working properly. The audience, including myself, was patient with him because everyone was used to going to a Power Point presentation. I’m speculating, but, his Power Point presentation could just have easily been written by an employee, a colleague, or anyone else.

The Winging It Presenter

When you winging it, you have a 100% engagement with your audience. Up to now, I have felt pride in not having to refer to notes or a screen in making a presentation. My audiences quickly recognize that I don’t have any type of a crutch and show their appreciation in different ways. I even got an applause once after an hour and a half presentation without notes or a screen, but still giving them what they expected, challenging them, and answering all their questions. I can’t disguise not knowing my material because I’m talking directly to them, answering their questions, asking them questions, and making sure that my summary leaves them with actionable information and the right impression of me.

Integrating Power Point and Winging It

In winging it, it’s incumbent upon me to be organized, know the subject matter intimately, and be able to get back on track after answering what might often be a series of questions. While winging it has been looked down upon in some sectors, it still remains a very necessary presentation skill especially for making brief presentations. However, in that it has become so highly expected, I am now integrating Power Point in my presentations while still effectively engaging with my audience. In my free monthly Newsletter, I will be offering presentation tips on how I’m doing this.