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22nd February 2013

Is there a good alternative to PowerPoint?

Delivering a Talk

There are 30 million PowerPoint presentations created every day, according to Microsoft. So what is a good alternative to PowerPoint that could help to engage or inspire your audience more effectively? Ginger's public speaking expert, Sarah Lloyd-Hughes gives her top PowerPoint alternatives

Why do we need a PowerPoint alternative?

The biggest problem with PowerPoint is its popularity. Everybody is used to the format because we’ve seen thousands of PowerPoints before, so our brain starts to stereotype those images. Somewhere in our brain we think “I’ve seen this before SO many times. I’ve seen this image.”

The fact is you probably HAVE seen this image. The brand, the company logo, some bullet points, the title at the top of the page, perhaps a bit of clip art in the corner or a motivational image… as soon as the brain sees this on PowerPoint and recognizes it as familiar.

As soon as this happens, it’s less likely that you'll form a new memory about the presentation. The brain switches off, begins stereotyping, and thinks more or less I know this information. So no matter what the speaker does with that PowerPoint, they will be fighting to get the audience to remember their information and to hold their attention.

My Top 5 Alternatives to PowerPoint:

  1. Use your words and your body. Anything that visually or kinesthetically or sensorially represents your message will help your audience remember your speech in different ways. Don't automatically leap for powerpoint when you could evoke an image through brilliant storytelling. It's much a more personal and endlessly more
  2. Flip chart: an underused alternative to PowerPoint. What I love about flip charts is that they are interactive. Every time you flip a page and write something the audience thinks “Hmm. This is something done just for me, just for this speech.”  The normal audience size optimal for a flip chart is between 50 to 100.
  3. Props are always appealing to an audience. Make sure they’re big enough for the audience to see.  Whatever you use be sure that it’s vivid and vibrant and bright; something stereotypical of your message.  You can even use people as visual aids. Get creative, get playful, get fun.
  4. And of course there are always new technologies out there now. Prezi.com is a good alternative to PowerPoint and is a funky way of showing information. You could also use mindmaps from somewhere like mindmeister.com displayed on your screen. Of course if everyone uses these technologies, the same problem happens as with PowerPoint.
  5. Videos are a fun and easy to source way of livening up a presentation. I believe you may have heard of http://www.youtube.com and http://ted.com as fine places to start your search.

The idea is to simply just interact with your audience. Take volunteers and do a skit. Think creatively about all the possibilities available.  Don’t just rely on PowerPoint. It’s actually quite a lazy route.  It can seem like a lifeline to hang onto to remember your lines or to seem more professional, but if you want to give a really effective presentation it’s important to think outside the box.

If you do decide to use PowerPoint, utilize it in a creative innovative way. Do not list every little bit of  the information you’ll be covering… unless you want a sleepy audience.

 

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