I attended a very good presentation last week by the Australian CEO of General Electric, Steve Sargent. He enthusiastically involved his audience and displayed comprehensive and passionate knowledge of his business. I won’t critique his speech per se, but offer some praise:
Steve had some very busy PowerPoints, with a great deal of information on them, and he was using them as an aide memoire for his presentation. At one point, the PC stopped projecting anything and Steve had a painful wait as technicians attempted to correct the projection and get his information up on-screen. After some moments of waiting, Steve launched into a description of further aspects of the GE business, sans the projection. At that point, not only did Steve demonstrate great respect for his audience’s needs, he also demonstrated his breadth of knowledge about the business (look Ma, no hands!) and was more interesting than the summary slides he had been using up till that point.
The PowerPoint came back up a few minutes later and he then continued to use it for his presentation. He had some powerful trends information for which he used visual references and that he explained very competently.
After the formal presentation, Steve then provided some in-depth responses to questions from the audience. He once again demonstrated his insight with impromptu responses, without the aid of PowerPoint. To my mind, energetic and enthusiastic as he was throughout, the latter part was still better than most of the prepared PowerPoint presentation.
As a speaker, you must be prepared for the worst and communicate clearly, passionately and directly with your audience. Don’t rely on the PowerPoint. It should be used as a visual support, with you as the primary source.