Everybody is interesting

“We believe that everybody has a story and is creative in their own way.” – Astrid Klein

Long-time reader Thomas Maile nominated Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein as leaders who light the path.

The two founders of the PechaKucha movement have changed the rules for presenting forever. In a world that was used to death by PowerPoint with presentations that seemed to run forever while leading nowhere, they established a format that has made quite an impact.

PechaKucha Nights are held everywhere across the globe giving everyone a stage and the chance to tell their story and let us in into their world.

Thomas made his nomination with these words:

“German news magazine DER SPIEGEL once called PechaKucha speakers ‘pop stars of PowerPoint’. While that’s a cute description it’s also one that doesn’t quite do justice to what PechaKucha is really about.

First (and obviously), PechaKucha is a strict presentation format: exactly 20 slides each advancing automatically to the next after exactly 20 seconds, adding to a total of 400 seconds, i.e. 6 minutes and 40 minutes. Every presentation is the same length and has the same format.

But underneath, PechaKucha is way more. By spreading across 1200 cities around the world, PechaKucha gives a stage to the unheard voices. It allows people like you and me to talk about what matters to them. That to me is the power of “EVERYBODY HAS A STORY”. PechaKucha gives the opportunity to tell it. It’s also why the Spiegel headline is not quite true. It’s not for pop stars. It’s for everyone.

Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham have done an amazing job of fostering that movement. To me, they serve as a role model for leaders who light the path.”

I couldn’t agree more to Thomas’ words. Recently, I’ve had the pleasure to chat with Astrid and Mark and they deserve every word that Thomas has said about them.

What struck me most was their deep belief that everybody is equal. In their own words: “PechaKucha is about democratizing the stage”.

It gives everyone an opportunity to speak up. It surfaces those voices that don’t consider themselves pop stars but have stories to share that are just as interesting – often even more so – than the ones that the pop stars, influencers, and gurus share.

On their freshly remade website there are a lot of gems to discover. Head over to discover some.

And then, when you come back, read the “Leaders Light the Path” manifesto and nominate someone yourself. It’s really easy.

Thoughts on outlines

In the corporate world, outlines are still pretty much mandatory at the start of a presentation. Also, they are pretty much wasted time.

Outlines have a very simple purpose: to provide peace of mind. That’s what any audience is looking for at the start of a presentation. They want to be sure that it’s safe to follow you on your journey. Or at least that it’s worthwhile. That their time is invested well listening to you.

“What is it exactly that she is going to tell us?”, i.e. an outline, is one way of providing that peace of mind. But not the only one. Another way would be to have a strong opening that makes it totally obvious: “Where is she going with this?”.

But there are others.

What’s actually more important than how you provide that peace of mind is to make sure that i) your audience trusts you that you know where you’re going with this and ii) you’ve made it obvious to them that it’s ok to trust you, i.e. that you’re leading them to some place they actually want to arrive at.

Whether that actual place is obvious from the start is secondary. Whether you mark it using an outline or other means is secondary.

What’s primary is that you need the trust that it’s worthwhile to follow you there.

Do I need slides?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: If it helps to make a stronger case than without slides, then go ahead, make slides. If not, don’t. Make it specific and repeat this question for every single slide you think about creating. Is your story stronger with that slide, then make it. If not, don’t.

What’s the ideal number of slides for a presentation?

Martin Luther King didn’t need a slide at all. Dick Hardt used 50 slides – per minute! Both used the ideal number of slides – for the story they wanted to tell on that day to that audience.

Rather than with a number of slides it’s much more useful to start with a story and then add slides as we need them. A slide is needed when it allows us to communicate something better with that slide than without it. Sometimes, we need a lot of slides, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes a slide needs a lot of time to explain, sometimes it doesn’t.

In essence, the simple (though, admittedly, not necessarily easy) answer to the question about the ideal number of slides is this: You need as many slides as you need.

“Our customers expect it that way”

I have never once in my lifetime seen any audience prefer a boring presentation over a compelling one.

And yet, people keep on defending their bullet-overloaded PowerPoint insisting that “that’s the way our customers expect it.” Almost always that’s an excuse to keep hiding behind boring, self-centered PowerPoints.

What people mean by “our customers expect that” is that they don’t trust in their story still being compelling when stripped of the PowerPoint decoration. When it looks like PowerPoint, it’s at least the way everyone does it. To paraphrase the famous IBM-quote, no one’s ever got fired for using PowerPoint. People are so used to boring PowerPoint presentations that they tolerate it.

Yet, nobody expects it. What audiences expect is that presentations don’t talk bullshit. Or lack substance, consisting of not much more than cute pictures and a few jokes.

Of course, that’s not what we mean when we say “compelling”. Compelling is not in how things look but in what things are. Substance is in the product, not in the slides. Resonance is in the story, not in the medium.

So, let me repeat: I have never once in my lifetime seen any audience prefer a boring presentation over a compelling one.

If in doubt, make it more compelling, not less. Make it stand out more, not less.

Make is less standard rather than more standard.

I guarantee you that people will appreciate you for making great use of their time.

The indifference of PowerPoint

One of the big problems with PowerPoint presentations is how they are indifferent to their content so often. The bigger the company, the bigger the problem. It shows like this: Neither the presenter nor their slides provide any hint as to whether the presentation is about a trivial matter or something important. Whether it’s just pure information or a reason to celebrate.

Everything just always looks the same in that same boring corporate slide layout. Everything just always follows the same proven agenda. And everything is just always presented in the same monotonous style.

The worst part: apparently it’s just the way it is … and given the committee decision making process, there seems to be nothing you can do about it. When everything has to be approved by a number of departments and hierarchical levels, every divergence is quickly ironed out again (I mean: “what if someone doesn’t like it?”).

It’s just the way it is. Or is it?

Tell me about your strategies to navigate around the indifference of PowerPoint presentations.

Are you strong enough for PowerPoint?

… because you need to be strong to use PowerPoint in a meaningful way.

PowerPoint can turn a great story into a great presentation. But more often than not it does just the opposite. It’s a tool to turn great content into confusing presentations.

PowerPoint invites us to skip clarity and fill slides instead. When we fire up the app, the screen basically says: let’s go and start to write everything that comes to your mind onto a slide. Making bad things worse, we recall having done just that quite recently, so we go hunting for slides that we’ve already got from previous presentations.

PowerPoint doesn’t care the least bit whether, at this point, we already have an understanding of who will be sitting in front of us, why she will be sitting there and what matters to her. PowerPoint favours quantity over quality.

PowerPoint also invites us to set the wrong priorities. When the slides start to fill up, there are all sorts of buttons waiting for us to go looking for fonts, choosing colors, drawing diagrams, designing animations, moving slides etc.

PowerPoint doesn’t care the least bit whether, at this point, we’ve already nailed our storyline, which slides we actually need to make our point and what these slides need to convey in order to make the point. PowerPoint favours “that looks good” over “that’s interesting, relevant and exciting”.

In fact, PowerPoint is happy to eat up all of our preparation time with filling slides and tinkering with the design. After all, a lot of carefully crafted slides look like you’ve worked a lot and achieved a lot – while clarity in your thinking isn’t visible at all from the outside.

Yet, audiences prefer a clear story over confusing slides every single time. PowerPoint will not help you find that clarity. It wants you to make slides. And more of them. And more. You’ll need clarity before you fire up PowerPoint. Without clarity, it’s quite likely that a lot of the time you spend in PowerPoint is just wasted. I’m even willing to take a bet that the earlier you start using PowerPoint in the process of creating a presentation, the greater the risk of wasting time.

But if you are strong enough to resist. If you answer the important questions before firing up PowerPoint. Then it’s a great tool to turn your story into a great presentation.

Be strong! Resist PowerPoint! Start with clarity!

12 Fragen: 10. PowerPoint ist das Letzte?

Ja, das Letzte, an das Sie bei der Vortragsvorbereitung denken sollten.

Tolle Folien können gute Präsentationen zu großartigen Präsentationen machen – aber niemals retten sie eine schlechte. Also: Erst die Story, dann die Folien, die genau dazu passen (wenn Sie denn überhaupt welche brauchen).

Let’s Talk: Die YouTubisierung der Präsentation

Heute zu Gast bei Let’s Talk: Peter Claus Lamprecht, Präsentationsberater und Autor des Buches „PowerPoint und Prezi: Sehr gut präsentieren“.

Wir haben uns darüber unterhalten, wie Facebook, Instagram und YouTube die Präsentationswelt beeinflussen, warum die Zuhörer heute vorformulierte Entscheidungen erwarten und weder Geduld noch Zeit zum Selberdenken und Selber-in-ein-Thema-vertiefen haben, warum deshalb Vertrauen in den Redner immer wichtiger wird, warum Prezi fernsehmäßiger als PowerPoint wirkt, ob PowerPoint oder Prezi überzeugender sind und … ach, am besten hören Sie selbst rein …

Folge 16 als MP3 herunterladen
Let’s Talk bei iTunes
Let’s Talk als Podcast abonnieren
Homepage von Let’s Talk

Buchempfehlung: „PowerPoint und Prezi: Sehr gut präsentieren“ von Peter Claus Lamprecht

Ein schöner Zufall: Gleichzeitig mit meinem AHA-Effekt ist ein Präsentationsbuch von meinem Freund und Kollegen Peter Claus Lamprecht erschienen, das sich explizit an Einsteiger richtet und sie in die – sinnvolle – Bedienung von PowerPoint und Prezi einweiht.

PowerPoint – Fluch und Segen

PowerPoint macht es leicht, großartige Folien zu erstellen. Aber es macht es noch leichter, grauenvolle Folien zu erstellen.

Dank PowerPoint ist jemand, der noch nie eine Präsentation gehalten hat, in der Lage, eine hochprofessionelle Präsentation mit beeindruckenden visuellen Darstellungen zu erstellen. Zu den großen Errungenschaften von PowerPoint gehörte von Anfang an die Demokratisierung des Designs. Kaum ein anderes Programm hat so vielen Menschen so mächtige Grafikwerzeuge in die Hand gegeben, die vergleichbar einfach zu bedienen sind. Vor PowerPoint brauchte man gelernte Grafikdesigner, um halbwegs brauchbare Visualisierungen zu erstellen. Heute braucht man in vielen Fällen nur ein paar Klicks in PowerPoint.

Doch ebenfalls dank PowerPoint endet das meist in einem Desaster. Schlecht gestaltete, unübersichtliche, überfrachtete und didaktisch völlig ungeeignete Folienschlachten. Viel zu viel Text, Grafikelemente sind wie Kraut und Rüben auf der Folie verteilt, nichts ist ausgerichtet, nichts ist gestaltet. Weil PowerPoint es so leicht macht, Chaos zu erzeugen. Es lädt ein, Text auf die Folien zu schreiben statt zu visualisieren. Und all die mächtigen Grafikwerzeuge stehen ohne Anleitung zur Verfügung. Nebeneinander, ungeordnet, ständig verfügbar, ständig den Eindruck vermittelnd: benutz mich – während ordnende Elemente wie Führungslinien, Raster, Folienmaster usw. oft mühsam gesucht werden müssen und gerade nicht leicht zu verstehen oder bedienen sind.

Ein Ratgeber mit einer starken Meinung

Endlich gibt es mit „PowerPoint und Prezi: Sehr gut präsentieren“ ein Buch, dass hier gerade denen hilft, die es am dringendesten brauchen, nämlich denen, die noch nie oder lange nicht präsentiert haben. Gerade die orientieren sich oft an dem, was sie in anderen Präsentationen sehen, eifern also den schlechten Beispielen nach. Und stehen dann noch hilfloser vor den eigentlich sinnvollen Werkzeugen von PowerPoint.

Peter Claus Lamprecht tut in seinem Buch aus der Stiftung-Warentest-Reihe „Digitale Welt für Einsteiger“ das, was eigentlich schon PowerPoint tun sollte. Er nimmt die Nutzer an die Hand und er lässt die unzähligen Fähigkeiten von PowerPoint (und Prezi) eben nicht umkommentiert nebeneinander stehen. Es ist ein Ratgeberbuch mit einer starken Meinung. Und das hat gefehlt.

Der eigentliche Anleitungsteil des Buches ist hervorragend, gerade für Einsteiger. Leicht nachvollziehbar, klar strukturiert, auf das Wesentliche reduziert. Schon hier ist es besser als die unzähligen anderen PowerPoint-Ratgeber auf dem Markt. Doch der Grund, warum ich in Zukunft dieses Buch empfehlen werde statt anderer Ratgeber, sind gerade die Teile, die diese Anleitung ins rechte Licht rücken. Die Meinung.

Von Anfang an stellt Peter Claus klar, welchen Platz PowerPoint und Prezi in einer Präsentation haben und welchen Sinn Folien erfüllen. Erst die Botschaft, dann die Struktur und erst zum Schluss die Folien, das ist die richtige Reihenfolge. Denn erst zum Schluss kann man beantworten, wozu man genau diese Folie an genau jener Stelle im Vortrag benötigt.

Wer zum ersten Mal oder seit langer Zeit einmal wieder eine PowerPoint- oder Prezi-Präsentation erstellen muss, für den ist „PowerPoint und Prezi: Sehr gut präsentieren“ daher das Ratgeber-Buch der Wahl, um in die beiden Werkzeuge einzusteigen, und eine sinnvolle Ergänzung zum AHA-Effekt.

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Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz