Thoughts on Power Point

Illustrated by David Stelzl

When do you use Power Point? As far as sales calls go, I am not a Power Point Fan.  While PowerPoint is a powerful tool when used incorrectly it can put an audience to sleep, kill discussion, and alienate your audience.  On the positive side it gives a sales person the ability to display diagrams and process, as well as photographs of products with bright colorful images and flare.   As a speaker, I can communicate to a larger audience where dialogue is not expected, and imaged help people track through the points I am making.

That said, once the lights dim, the propensity to slip off into dreamland grows with each slide unless I can hold the audience’s attention.  On the other hand, slide shows  have a tendency to distance the smaller audience and come off as canned (such as in a board room) – one size fits all.   I remember an incident years ago while working as an IT manager in a large bank.  The local sales rep of a prominent networking company called on me.  His objective was to convince me to move from my current network operating system to his.  We had met before, but he was persistent and charged with breaking into this lucrative account.  As an IT person I was only an influencer, so his tact should have been to educate me on more technical things, helping me expand my own expertise.  When he arrived I even coached him on my need – to know more about network operating systems.  Instead he pulled out his projector.  I pleaded with him to put it away, hoping to use our meeting time to address particular questions.  While I wasn’t about to change operating systems, education would have been the key to my heart.  Instead, he proceeded with his own agenda.  He promised all of my questions would be addressed in his slide show.

Thirty minutes later I was out of time.  None of my questions had been answered because his slides addressed things outside of my core interests.  It was a total waste of time, except to be used as an example of what not to do.  He left that afternoon, having had his last sales call with my department.

© 2011, David Stelzl


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