Speakers: Use PowerPoint / Keynote Because. . .


"NO SWEAT Public Speaking!" See-&-Hear1P Seeing and Hearing is Better Than Just Hearing!

The Goal of all Communication; Visual, Written, or Verbal, is the Same.
We want the recipient(s), as quickly as possible, to GET IT!

GETTING IT! means understanding the message. They don’t have to agree with all of it. They don’t have to agree with any of it. However, unless they GET IT! there can be no conversation going forward.

People Have Three Learning Styles.
Drawing on Two or More Increases the Odds They’ll GET IT!

Those Three Styles Are:

  1. Auditory – Learn by hearing.
    • These people really listen. Not only are the words they hear processed, but the way they are spoken is dealt with more closely than other learning styles do this.
    • Being aware of, and using all the elements of Vocal Communication, are important when communicating to these folks.
  2. Visual – Learn by seeing.
    • These individuals look closely, very closely, and often see details others miss.
    • They best process shapes, colors, and images presented to them.
  3. Kinesthetic – Learn by doing.
    • These are the “hands-on learners” or the “doers” who actually concentrate better and learn more easily when movement is involved.
Each of us, to one degree or another, use all these styles. One is usually dominant. Nothing is good or bad. It is what it is.

For speakers, using PowerPoint/Keynote in their Presentations makes sense.
Combining high quality, universally understood images on a screen with You, the speaker, providing the “Text,” is an excellent way to appeal to two Learning Styles.

So Your Audience GETS IT!
Here are Some Best Practices for Your Presentation:

Use very little text and as few bullet points as possible.

Here’s why:
Text and bullet points do not reinforce the presenter’s message. They

  • Confuse the Audience.
  • Compete with the Presenter.
  • Complicate the Message

The audience will be reading at a different speed than the presenter is speaking the words. They will be ahead or behind the point the speaker is making so the words they “hear” will not coincide with the sentences they are “seeing.” The result is a lesser understanding than the speaker desires.


  • Use High Quality, Universally Understood, Graphics.
    • This should not be a Rorschach Inkblot Test.
    • Your entire audience should see and interpret the images the same way.
  • Eliminate the Clutter!
    • There is no need for branding, logos, your name, etc. being placed on every slide.
    • Don’t use multicolored, wierd shaped templates.
      • A simple white only background is often best.
  • Deliver your message in a conversational manner.
    • A great presentation should seem like a one-on-one conversation with audience members.

Your slides, like the words you use, should be clean and simple.
Here’s why:
Our minds work by associations and we think in pictures.
Example: If I say, “Apple,” you probably don’t see the letters A-P-P-L-E. My experience tells me you see something round, probably red, and there is a stem coming out of the top – Correct?

The images on a slide are used to supplement your words and help the visual learners (65% of the population) GET IT!
The slideshow is not the presentation!

When using a slide, as your talk goes forward and before the next slide, many times it is helpful for your delivery, to strategically insert Blank Slides. The eyes of the audience will immediately move from the screen to You, the presenter – where they should be!

Allowing a slide to stay “on” for an extended period makes it a distraction. Because our eyes are drawn to the light and the image(s) you’re projecting, while you are speaking, the audience is looking at the screen. Since our nonverbal communication (gestures, facial expressions, posture, and body movement) is 55% of our communication pyramid (tonality being 38% and the words we speak only 7% ), the audience could potentially miss a great part of your message!

Do Not Use:

  • Fancy Transitions
  • Build-Ins, Build-Outs
  • Special Effects
  • Fancy templates or
  • Any of the other “cool” things available to PowerPoint and Keynote users.

Here’s why:
It’s clutter! All those things distract from your message.  Keep things Zen-like: Clean and Simple – Less is More!

Follow this advice for using PowerPoint/Keynote in Your Presentations. Do that, and my prediction is this: That presentation will be – NO SWEAT!

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About the Author
Fred E. Miller is a speaker, a coach, and the author of the book,
“No Sweat Public Speaking!”
Businesses and individuals hire him because they want to improve their
Public Speaking and Presentation Skills.
They do this because we perceive really great speakers to be Experts.
Perception is reality, and we rather deal with Experts.

They also know:
Speaking Opportunities are Business Opportunities.
Speaking Opportunities are Career Opportunities.
Speaking Opportunities are Leadership Opportunities.

He shows them how to:
Develop, Practice, and Deliver ‘Knock Your Socks Off Presentations!’ with –

Fred E. Miller

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  1. Great post Fred. I am absolutely an Auditory learner. I have to really concentrate to learn something if I am not hearing it.

    I can’t work in a focused way unless I have 100% silence because I am so inclined to listen carefully to what I am hearing.

  2. Very timely as I am giving a presentation this weekend. In fact, Russ will be there as well! I think I have a few slides to tweak…

  3. Looking forward to meeting you Kim!

  4. Fred E. Miller says:


    I’m sure your presentation will be – NO SWEAT!

    Russ will be “Listening” and not looking at your slides. However, others, especially the visual learners, will be “Seeing” what your message!

  5. Thanks Fred. To me, seems like some good advice in your post. However, there are also a couple of points I have strong doubts about. Let me explain.

    On the one hand, I really liked your point about being conversational, and about using blank slides to keep the attention on the speaker. I also agree that text on a slide competes with the presenter.

    On the other hand, please see these resources that argue against the concept of learning styles, and against the idea that words only convey 7% of our message (the “Mehrabian myth”):

  6. Fred E. Miller says:


    Thanks for your thoughts and taking time to Post them.

    I’m familiar with Dr. Mehrabian’s Study and suggestions it was flawed because of the audience he used for his conclusions. I think the percentages in his “Learning Pyramid” are incorrect, but the ranking makes sense to me and others.

    I agree we should never discount the value of the words in our presentation.

    Recently, we’ve had political debates in the US. Much of the talk has been about Visual Communication:
    • President Obama was disengaged in the first debate.
    • Vice President Biden was grinning too much.

    Thanks, again, for your comments!

  7. Harry Wilson says:

    Hi Fred, first of all great post. I agree that seeing and hearing is better than just hearing. If you take a look at this short video on Visual Cognitive Dissonance (around 4 mins in http://www.m62.net/presentation-theory/bullet-points-dont-work/visual-cognitive-dissonance/) you will see that how using both makes you’re presentation more effective, and most people even remember the exact order of the animation on the video too.

  8. Harry,

    Thanks for your comment and the link.

    I watched the video and found it valuable.

    Make YOUR next presentation – NO SWEAT!

  9. hiru says:

    HI Fred,
    Good tips, thanks.

  10. HIru,

    Thanks for taking time to post that comment!

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