Person throwing a water bottle out of a car window

Here is a tiny fraction of a list of people who changed the world through the power of speech:

  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy
  • Martin Luther King
  • Winston Churchill
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Patrick Henry
  • Mother Teresa
  • Margaret Thatcher
  • Cicero
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

And here is a complete list of people who changed the world through a PowerPoint presentation:

People who use PowerPoint are like people who throw trash out their car window. For younger readers scratching their heads at that simile, I’ll explain. If you’re old, like me, you can skip a couple paragraphs.

In the fifties and sixties, everyone threw trash out of their car windows on the highways. Lots of people just got accustomed to seeing trash on the highways and just lived with it. A few decided to do something about. It took the Highway Beautification Act and Lady Bird Johnson’s star power to make people realize it was dumb. Now, most people don’t do it and the people who do, know they’re despised for it.

We’re somewhere in the sixties for PowerPoint. Pretty much no one likes to listen to a PowerPoint presentation, but almost everyone just goes along with it as if it should be that way.

You have a responsibility to engage with your audience in a manner that is effective for them, not in a manner that is lazy for you. Here are some alternative options that everyone reading this is more than capable of doing:

  • Tell a story. Stories are easy to tell. That’s why we tell them all the time in casual settings. Humans love to listen to stories, and they’ll remember facts when they are integrated into a story.
  • Use 3D props. If the audience is less than a couple dozen people, then let them touch the prop while you tell the story of why they should care.
  • Engage in a conversation. It’s really hard to get even a small audience to start a conversation with you. But it’s really easy to have a colleague do Q&A with you. People love talk shows.
  • Make short videos. Everyone likes a good video, and it will hold people’s attention – provided it isn’t long and boring.

You have the power to not point. Or you can throw trash at your audience.

Author: Ken Malone
Bio: As co-Executive Officer of Early Charm, Ken Malone leads the business development efforts behind the venture studio’s more than 30 portfolio firms. He has more than 25 years of experience building and leading tech-based companies, and is actively committed to bolstering Baltimore’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.