Why You Should Never Give a PowerPoint Presentation

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on July 15, 2013 – 12:03 am

You should never give a PowerPoint presentation.

Never.

I’m not saying you can never use PowerPoint again. You can. PowerPoint isn’t an inherently evil tool designed to put your audiences to sleep. Used correctly, it can make your spoken points more memorable and elicit a visceral reaction from your audience.

So why am I writing that you should never give a PowerPoint presentation again? Because there’s no such thing as a “PowerPoint presentation.”

PowerPoint Projector

Words offer insight into a speaker’s mindset. Speakers who use the phrase “PowerPoint presentation” are revealing something about the way they’re approaching their talks.

If they refer to their upcoming speeches as “PowerPoint presentations,” I’m willing to bet that they didn’t take time to sit and quietly contemplate the story they wanted to tell, the main points they wanted to make, and the narrative that would bind their entire talk together. Instead, they probably planned their speech by creating slides in their PowerPoint program.

Plus, the linguistic construction PowerPoint presentation is all wrong. PowerPoint is a tool that is intended to support your speech, not serve as its main method of delivery. It’s as odd as saying that you’re going to give a Lavaliere presentation or a Flip Chart presentation. Like PowerPoint, microphones and offline visuals are merely tools to serve your larger goals.

I don’t care that people use the phrase “PowerPoint presentation” because I’m a William Safire-like language purist. I care because it’s a revelatory phrase that often indicates flawed thinking.

So remember: There’s no such thing as a “PowerPoint presentation.” There are only presentations, some of which use PowerPoint, some more effectively than others.

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  • About Mr. Media Training

    The Mr. Media Training Blog offers daily tips to help readers become better media spokespersons and public speakers. It also examines how well (or poorly) public figures are communicating through the media.

    Brad Phillips is the Founder and Managing Editor of the Mr. Media Training Blog. He is the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm with offices in NYC and DC.

    Brad Phillips

    Before founding Phillips Media Relations in 2004, Brad worked as a journalist with ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel and CNN's Reliable Sources and The Capital Gang.

    Brad tweets at @MrMediaTraining.

    Christina Mozaffari is the Senior Writer for the Mr. Media Training Blog. She is the Washington, D.C. vice president for Phillips Media Relations.

    Brad Phillips

    Before joining Phillips Media Relations in 2011, Christina worked as a journalist with NBC News, where she produced stories for MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, NBC Nightly News, and The Today Show.

    Christina tweets at @PMRChristina.

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