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.

Add Value in the Perception, the Package, and the Presentation

What would the world do if it wasn’t for “buzz words” – those sort of “shorthand” words that denote much a much larger meaning condensed into a short phrase or singular word. Somehow we all know the meaning of these words and phrases in their larger context or sort of know the meaning of them. One such “buzz word” is “Value Added.”

I have heard this used time and time again but wonder what people mean when they say it or what they understand when they hear it and nod knowingly. I take it to mean “adding something of value to a product or service to differentiate it from other, similar or even identical, products or services.” So, how does a business add value to a product or service to separate it from the pack and make it more desirable?

Many books have been written on this fascinating topic so in the short space of this column we’ll just be touching on the subject of adding value. It’s all about changing the buyer’s perception of value. In other words, giving the purchaser something they feel has value without adding substantially to the cost or lowering (gasp!) your prices. It could be the manner in which people are treated in person, on the telephone, or in written communications – friendliness and pleasant surroundings adds value. It could be in the package such as an attractive report cover, sturdy shopping bag, or careful packaging of a fragile item. Added value can be perceived from your integrity and policies – guarantees, the manner in which returns are handled, and convenience factors like extended hours or reminder services. Value can be added in the manner products or services are presented such as the way wine is presented with grace and showmanship at a fine restaurant or the way a hair stylist positions you to look in the mirror when finished cutting your hair.

When I hear someone tell me they sell a commodity, I pull out my buzzword and ask, “What are you doing to deliver a “Value Added” experience? I’ll ask the same question of you!

In Advertisement, A Dynamic Image is Crucial For Success in Person and Even DVD Presentations

The average businesses operated today are average for two reasons alone.  One is image.  The other is ability.  Conducting a successful business is 40% image and 60% knowledge and ability.  Depending upon who is consulted, many individuals would say image is the more important aspect of business.  Those individuals would be correct. 

The phrase “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” is very true, but despite that, most people form preconceived notions of a person or company within in the first 5 seconds of being introduced.  Initially, how a company or even an individual is perceived will make, break, or severely hinder any possible future business transactions.  How the company conveys their desired image is then crucial.

As the business world evolves into the 21st century, more transactions are becoming sightless transactions.  Rather than face to face business deals, computer screens and telephones are replacing a human face.  Often the only chance to communicate your products, services, or abilities is on paper, CD or DVD presentations, or LCD screens.

It’s quite difficult to grab and hold the attention of potential clients without a dynamically interesting graphic and quality title or catch phrase.  The emphasis on marketing and commercial advertising that many companies place can amount well into the millions and billions of dollars every year.  Some individuals frown upon this excess of monetary spending, however, put into perspective it serves a very effective purpose.  What is said and what image is conveyed is just as important as what isn’t said.  It is this constant flow of money that allows companies to continue to grow and generate revenue by creating new advertisements in order to maintain a fresh and pleasing image.

The overall business landscape is not made up of huge behemoths, but by the small to midsize business.  With sightless transactions replacing face to face business, the smaller companies actually can improve the chances of acquiring new business.  A professionally prepared image and name or title on a DVD and presentation materials can get a foot in the door. The quality of the outside packaging can be of more importance than what’s on the inside.

At this point, how a small company’s abilities and knowledge fulfill the potential target’s needs come into play, but always keep in the forefront what image is being displayed.  The products and services may fit the bill 110%, but if the potential client’s perception of image is unsatisfying, the client will make excuses which will be rationalized as to why they should look elsewhere.