Better PowerPoint Presentations: Dump Your Slides

I’m serious. A sure way to better PowerPoint Presentations is to dump the slides.

Somehow, sometime between the invention of PowerPoint KeyNote and the obsolescence of the slide projector, our love affair with slides became a marriage. And not the good kind of marriage. Nope. It became the bad kind of marriage, the kind where both partners bring out the very worst in one another.

And just like in a real bad marriage, the whole community has started sniping about the pair. Some blame the scientist and some blame the tool. In any case,  the majority of talk about the science talk focuses on the slides.

And somehow everyone has the idea that the slides and the science talk can’t get a divorce.  Nonsense. 99% of the world communicates just fine without the aid of PowerPoint KeyNote (I’ll get back to you with the reference.) Slides are a horrible, no-good, crappy, co-dependant communication partner that make science talks worse rather than better.

Here’s my no-slide challenge:

Write your presentation outline using the following structure, rather than the bullet structure PowerPoint slides have convinced us we need.

  1. Introductory Story – (Why research topic is important to you).
  2. Tell us what three things you want us to know at the end of your presentation.
  3. Another story (Why your research topic is important to us).
  4. Another story  (How you found stuff out).
  5. Another Story (What you found out and what it means).
  6. Another story (How awesome the next bit of research will be now that you’ve found stuff out).
  7. Remind us of the three things you want us to know.
  8. Thank us for listening to you.
  9. Now rehearse your presentation:
    Memorize the first and last thing you will say for every section.
    Rehearse some more – really concentrate on telling the stories.
    Now present your talk to a friend.
    Ask – how can I make my talk clearer?
    Listen to what your friend says and rework the areas your friend says are unclear.
    Rinse and Repeat as Needed.

You have now made a scientific talk that is 900 times better than 90% of them out there. Please – just once challenge yourself to present for reals without slides.

The best part is – people will think you are a super hero for being able to present without the slide crutch.

More importantly, you will be able to decipher where your talk actually isn’t clear.

But I’m burying the lead. If you prepare your talk this way you will NOT need to talk to the screen!

YAY! Better PowerPoint Presentations = No PowerPoint Presentations.

Wonder Twin Powers Activate: Form of A Great Science Talk; Shape of Great Science Talk Delivery.


Send me your feedback on this experiment!  Hate it?  Love it?  Willing to try it?  Let me know!  I will respond to each and every one of your emails.

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