I believe PowerPoint can be an effective tool – here are 5 reasons why


I’ve heard many people say they won’t use PowerPoint because it is boring, or worse useless. There is lots of discussion of “Death by PowerPoint”. Indeed, Harvard University did a study that showed that PowerPoint was rated (by online audiences) as no better than verbal presentations with no visual aids.

I believe that PowerPoint, used well, can enhance your presentation and help your audience learn and remember more. That is not to say that the way most PowerPoint is done has that effect. To me, the Harvard study is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

So what do I believe about PowerPoint?

1. PowerPoint is a tool that can be used for good or bad
Like any other tool, PowerPoint can be used for good or to create harm. If you keep in mind John Sweller’s Cognitive Load Theory, you can create presentations with PowerPoint that will engage your audience and stimulate their desire to learn your important information. What Sweller’s Theory says is that we have a limited working memory and if we fill it up with “the how” we are presenting, there won’t be room for “the what” we are presenting. That means that slides with lots of text are not effective.

PowerPoint can also be used as a list of bullet points (or worse sentences) that the presenter reads. The latter contradicts the Redundancy principle in Richard E. Mayer’s 12 Principles of Multimedia Learning, which says that people will learn more from image and speech than from image, speech, and on-screen text.

2. PowerPoint can help various types of learners
By including a title and an image on each slide you help Visual and Reading/Writing learners absorb your key information. Auditory learners absorb your information by listening. You will also need an interactive element like a fillable handout, poll, or game for the Kinesthetic learners. I recommend my clients end each presentation with a game to enhance learning and increase the fun.

3. You can create simple slides – even using PowerPoint
As long as you keep in mind what your slide are there for, you can use PowerPoint to make slides that enhance your presentation. Your slides are not your speaking notes. Your slides are not your handouts. Your slides are there to enhance your presentation. You need to keep your slides simple with just a title and an image, and at most 3 one- to three-word bullets.

4. PowerPoint can be used to share images
Richard E. Mayer’s 12 Principles of Multimedia Learning says that people learn more from images and speech than from speech alone. PowerPoint is a great way to add images to a presentation and well-chosen images help your audience learn and remember your key information.

5. Great PowerPoint is possible – it just takes time or asking for help
It is easy to use PowerPoint as a way to organize your thoughts into bullet points. The problem is that presenting your outline to your audience is worse than just giving a verbal presentation with no visual aids.

What you need to do is think about appropriate images for the key points you are making. Once you do that, you need to find appropriate images that you are able to use without infringing copyright. For that, you may need to get some help. I am now offering a Professional Slides Solution, with my colleague Dianne Volek, who has a wonderful graphic eye and is a wiz with PowerPoint. With that, you would just need to worry about your content and let us worry about your slides.

Need help with your slides?
Book at free no-obligation 45-minute AMP UP Session here to see if my Professional Slides Solution is right for you or if one of my other programs would be a better fit. During this session, I will guide you through a self-Assessment of the Memorability of your Presentations. Here is a link to book an AMP UP Session at a time that works for you: https://calendly.com/brenda-memorablepresenter/45min-amp_up