(First, a confession. I’m not much of a fan of Powerpoint. I seldom use it (actually, I prefer Keynote), and when I do, it is mostly images, and mostly to introduce my speech/presentation. So, take this as criticism from one who is not a fan).
Here is the deal. You should speak to your audience. So look your audience members in the eye. Eyeball to eyeball. You are not speaking to a projection screen, you are speaking to people. So look at the people – eyes front at all times!, toward your audience members. They, and they alone, are your audience.
Have you watched any TED talks? The speakers always look in the direction of their audience. Yes, they have a pretty big budget, with multiple monitors in front of the speakers. But the principle is crystal clear – eyes front!
Recently, I saw again what I have seen too many times to mention. A speaker was presenting a report to a room full of folks. For practically the entire time, he stood facing the screen, with his back to his audience, reading the slides at times almost word for word.
So – here are your communication tips of the day, for when you speak with PowerPoint or Keynote slides.
#1 — Never speak with your back to the audience. Not one word. Look at your audience at all times, and not, not ever!, at the screen.
#2 — Never have a chart or graph on a PowerPoint slide that is too small for the audience to read easily. If you just have to have it on the screen, even if it is too small to read, make sure your audience members have a copy in their own hands that they can read clearly and easily.
#3 – Darken the screen when you want your audience to pay more attention to you directly. Do this frequently throughout your presentation. In other words, be in control of the eyeball direction of your audience members. When you want them looking at the screen, then have a slide on the screen. When you want them looking at you, darken the screen.
All of this should remind you that PowerPoint slides are not the presentation. They are presentation aids. You are presenting your presentation. So look your audience members in the eye, speak directly to them, every minute, every word of your presentation.
(And, read my earlier blog post, A Set of PowerPoint Slides is NOT a “presentation” – a rant)