Another thought on PowerPoint Presentations

wci-chop-2.jpgI just came across a post by Seth Godin on the problems with PowerPoint presentations, and some suggestions on how to correct them. Last week I was really cracking down hard on a lot of presenters at the CENTS Show in Columbus, there were some bad ones . . . really bad ones.

Even sadder, most of those were by folks who had PhD after their name.

Seth makes some really good points, including this one:

PowerPoint could be the most powerful tool on your computer. But it’s not. Countless innovations fail because their champions use PowerPoint the way Microsoft wants them to, instead of the right way.

He’s right, I think its a great toll that is wasted, as much as I dig into PowerPoint the more I find. I’m sure I’m a rank amateur using this technology, but in the landscape field I look like a techno-wizard, and believe me I’m not.

Seth lays it out including tips to reinforce your topic/discussion/product:

Second, make slides that reinforce your words, not repeat them. Create slides that demonstrate, with emotional proof, that what you’re saying is true not just accurate.

A point which most in my industry miss big time. It turns into slide after slide of stats, and statistics, and more statistics, and out of focus slides.

Something else I need to mention. Handouts tantrumsmiley.gif. . . man this subject drives me crazy. nothing gets me more than a handout that is nothing more than a copy of the PowerPoint presentation, and the esteemed Mr. Godin couldn’t agree more:

Third, create a written document. A leave-behind. Put in as many footnotes or details as you like. Then, when you start your presentation, tell the audience that you’re going to give them all the details of your presentation after it’s over, and they don’t have to write down everything you say. Remember, the presentation is to make an emotional sale. The document is the proof that helps the intellectuals in your audience accept the idea that you’ve sold them on emotionally.

IMPORTANT: Don’t hand out the written stuff at the beginning! If you do, people will read the memo while you’re talking and ignore you. Instead, your goal is to get them to sit back, trust you and take in the emotional and intellectual points of your presentation.

We actually started that no handing out of the handouts until the end back in the mid-90’s. In the landscaping business this was Earth-shattering stuff. Earth-shattering! I’m tellin’ you. I can still see the looks on peoples faces, and “uh, well . . .uh, how will I follow along?” it was great.

I know for a fact that I have not, not been asked to do workshops at some events in the Green Industry because it is just too unorthodox, and you know what finger007.gif man, do I feel better.

Thanks for letting me unload that. And thanks Seth for that repost. you must have either been reading my Blog or my mind. if it’s the latter . . . get out of there!

By Rick Anderson

The Whispering Crane Institute was originally formed to act as the umbrella organization for the Philosophy of Design Symposium, and other seminars and workshops given by Rick Anderson and Richard L. Dube’. In the year 2000 WCI became a sole proprietorship owned by Rick Anderson. Today the WCI provides design and consultation services for Landscape Contractors, acts as a Green Industry think tank, and provides training for others in the form of workshops, seminars, and individual consulting. The WCI also provides written material, opinions, case-studies and how-to articles for industry trade magazines.


  1. Thanks Rick (and Seth) I’ve only recently moved from slides to Powerpoint. Your emphasis on the importance of emotion (in whatever medium you use) is absolutely true.

    Something else; I’ve seen you Rick respond to a long-winded question from a member of the audience ‘are’nt you scheduled to give a talk tomorrow?’ or words to that effect and to another ‘you have already asked two questions so this is your last’ I as a member of the audience and the others around me appreciated this. We mostly attend to hear the lecture and we appreciate some questions but we dont want the show to be taken over. The lecturer has to be aware and have respect for the feelings of the audience.

  2. You are too kind my good man, too kind. I was really in the groove that day. Plus I had a really great audience.

    There were there to learn what I knew and I tried to oblige them as best I could. It was a lot of fun.

    Controlling the audience is tough but working that fine line is what makes me want to continue to do talks/lectures/workshops.

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